Free Agents Left on Scrap Heap: Pitchers

We’ve covered position players left on the scrap heap, and now it’s time to look at pitchers still swimming around the free-agent pool.

Joe Saunders
Saunders is exactly the type of veteran innings-eater the Mets need to solidify the back-end of their rotation. Unfortunately, he reportedly has several suitors, and it’s doubtful the Mets will offer the best deal.

Chris Volstad
Volstad was absolutely terrible for the Cubs last year, and like Felix Unger, was asked never to return. The Royals picked him up on waivers in early December, but dropped him soon after. I always thought the 6’7″ righthander was an imposing figure with good stuff, and he’s only 26 — still time to turn it around. His size, 92-MPH sinker, low K rates, and inability to put it together remind me of Mike Pelfrey — except Volstad has pretty good off-speed stuff. I like the idea of penciling Volstad into the Las Vegas rotation as depth, and seeing what happens.

Kevin Slowey
Slowey is a typical product of the Minnesota Twins system: pitches to contact, walks very few, doesn’t strike out many. He was an OK back-end starter from 2008-2010, but has been terrible since. Maybe a move to the NL could turn him into an adequate back-end starter again.

Aaron Cook
Unsurprisingly, a move to the AL East and the comfy confines of Fenway Park yielded frightening results for the veteran sinkerballer; Cook posted an unsightly 5.65 ERA in 18 starts and he struck out less than two batters per nine innings. However, he still sports a heavy sinker that induces an absurd number of ground balls, so he could have value as a spot starter / long reliever.

Jair Jurrjens
This time last year I would have jumped for joy if the Mets were able to sign Jurrjens as a free agent. However, a 6.89 ERA can change one’s opinion. 2012 was also the fourth straight year that Jurrjens’ velocity decreased; it’s now under 90 MPH. Something definitely is wrong with the former phenom, and it could be physical. Buyer beware.

Matt Capps
If the Mets were serious about replacing Frank Francisco in the closer role, Capps might make sense. However, I’d be concerned about Capps’ health, as his rotator cuff is damaged and he’s a pitcher who relies heavily on velocity. Here’s my strategy: sign Capps, showcase him as a healthy, lights-out closer in the first half, trade him for a prospect like Wilson Ramos at the deadline. It worked for the Nationals a few years ago.

Manny Corpas
There was a time when I thought Corpas could turn into a valuable setup man. However, his velocity had dropped steadily every year, now down to 87-88 MPH — a major drop from when he touched 94-95 in his first few years in the bigs. As a result, he’s completely lost confidence in his heater (which now more aptly described as a “warmer”), and throws a rinky-dink slider about 60% of the time, which makes him a situational reliever / matchup guy. Why is he on this list, then? Because this is the same front office that gifted D.J. Carrasco with a two-year deal, so who knows what they’re thinking?

Chad Durbin
There’s nothing exciting about Chad Durbin. He quietly gobbles up innings and keeps his team within striking distance in the middle parts of meaningless games. And, he can fill any role, including a spot start if necessary. He’d be an un-sexy, but valuable signing.

Kyle Farnsworth
Could he be the 2013 version of Jon Rauch?

J.P. Howell
Not happening, but I figured I’d put him on the list to appease those wearing rose-colored glasses.

Brandon Lyon
Lyon seems to fit in the Frank Francisco mold of overrated reliever who gets overpaid because he once displayed a modicum of success as a closer for a bad team. In other words, the Mets might be able to afford him.

Jon Rauch
Rauch wasn’t awful last year, but he’s not an 8th-inning setup man and the Mets can’t afford to give him another $3.5M. If he’s amenable to, say, a one-year deal under $2M, the Mets shouldn’t hesitate.

Manny Parra
He’s lefthanded, can start or relieve, and strikes out a batter per inning. The reason the Mets can sign him is because he also walks about five batters per nine.

Peter Moylan
There aren’t many pitchers left who can “bring the funk,” as Willie Randolph might say, and Moylan would likely be obtainable on a cheap, minor-league deal. He would be a nice reliever to bring in to “mix it up” in the sixth or seventh inning.

Brian Wilson
I’m stunned that no other team has given Wilson a one-year, incentive-heavy contract with $5M-$7M guaranteed. He was a very reliable closer — in a Doug Jones kind of way. And it seems that most pitchers come back successfully from Tommy John surgery, so the risk is manageable. How has he not yet been picked up by the Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, or anyone in the NL East? Seems weird. In any case, he’d be a great sign for the Mets — if they can afford him.

Shaun Marcum
Marcum would be a welcome addition to the Mets, and though he’s no R.A. Dickey, he’s as close to R.A. as the Mets might be able to afford and can get from the current free-agent pool. My gut tells me that the Mets won’t pony up the money / commitment necessary to ink him to a deal.

Carl Pavano
Pavano is exactly the kind of veteran innings-eater the Mets need at the back of their rotation. And, it seems marginally possible that the Mets can afford him. Does that mean there’s a match?

Derek Lowe
The poor man’s Pavano. Considering that Pavano is in the budget of the poor man, maybe that means Lowe is the destitute man’s Pavano. In other words, he could find himself a Met by February. His value would be as Pac-Man, eating innings in various roles.

Rich Hill
Hill pitches well when he’s healthy, which isn’t often. He had a 1.17 ERA in the AL East last year despite continued elbow issues. There’s a good chance the Red Sox bring him back on a lesser deal after non-tendering him.

Sean West
West is a big lefthander with a big fastball, and was supposed to be an ace starter by now. He never quite put it together, but he’s also yet to try his hand as a reliever. Since he’s yet to make it as a starting pitcher, maybe his 96 MPH fastball and 6’8″ frame would be suited to a LOOGY role?

Kevin Whelan
This converted catcher was once a promising prospect in the Yankees organization, but fell from their graces and is now a free agent. He throws a low-90s fastball and a nasty splitter, and struck out 12.8 batters per 9 innings last year in AAA, posting a 3.54 ERA. And that’s no fluke — he had an unreal 15.6 K/9 in 2009, and is at 11.2 K/9 in his minor league career. The bad news? Last year he walked almost 6 batters per 9 IP — which is right around his career average.

Aaron Heilman
Don’t laugh – Heilman may be the best of a really bad lot of minor-league free-agent pitchers still available. He’s bounced around quite a bit since leaving New York, and spent the last two years in the minors. His 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 34 AAA games last year may seem underwhelming, but consider that he put up those numbers in the hitter-friendly PCL. Also of note, considering the league, he allowed just 4 homers in 47 IP — quite a feat for a PCL pitcher. I didn’t see him pitch live in 2012, but the numbers suggest he might have something left. What can it hurt to take a flyer on him?

Royce Ring
Yes, another former Met, but I swear this isn’t a nostalgic choice. Like Heilman, Ring found success in the hitter-happy PCL — great success. He had a 1.17 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The catch is that he pitched in only 11 games. Still, he’s always put up strong K/9 rates, and he’s a lefty, so is worth a look-see.

I’m sure I missed a few guys. Point them out in the comments.

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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