Ranking the top 10 MLB free-agent starting pitchers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The 2022-23 MLB offseason could be an eventful one for teams searching for starting pitching.
Several star pitchers can opt out of their current deals and become free agents after this season, including New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, San Francisco Giants southpaw Carlos Rodon, and Houston Astros veteran Justin Verlander. All three are expected to test the open market and earn hefty contracts.
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With Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill also set to become free agents, the Boston Red Sox could be one of the many clubs in the mix for a front-end starter. So, who could they target? Here are the top 10 starting pitchers who could be available on the MLB free-agent market this winter.
1. Jacob deGrom, RHP
2023 player option: $30.5 million
deGrom reportedly plans to opt out of his $30.5 million deal with the New York Mets for 2023. If he does, he’ll unquestionably be the top pitcher available on the open market despite approaching his mid-30s. The only red flag when it comes to signing deGrom is his injury history as the two-time Cy Young award winner has dealt with shoulder, elbow and forearm issues over the last three seasons.
2. Carlos Rodon, LHP
2023 player option: $22.5 million
Rodon has proven his stellar 2021 campaign with the Chicago White Sox was no fluke. The southpaw has anchored the San Francisco Giants pitching staff in 2022 and has set himself up for a big payday this offseason. He’s expected to opt out of his $22.5 million contract.
3. Justin Verlander, RHP
2023 player option: $25 million
Verlander is expected to opt out of his $25 million deal after being one of the best stories of the 2022 campaign. The aging veteran has posted a league-leading 1.84 ERA and 0.86 WHIP through 24 starts in his return from Tommy John surgery. He has shown no signs of slowing down in his 17th MLB season and should be rewarded with a major payday this winter.
Injuries are par for the course with Kershaw at this point in the future Hall of Famer’s career. But he’s enjoying another outstanding season in Los Angeles, posting a 7-3 record and a 2.59 ERA through 16 starts. It’d be a shock at this point if he signs with a team other than the Dodgers.
2023 mutual option: $19 million
Bassitt is expected to decline his $19 million mutual option after enjoying a rock-solid debut season with the Mets. He should be a coveted arm this offseason as he’s proven capable of pitching well in a big market.
2023 club option: $15 million
Severino’s injury history undoubtedly will factor into the Yankees‘ decision to exercise the right-hander’s club option this offseason. Considering Severino’s bounce-back 2022 season and his track record when healthy, it’d be a surprise if New York didn’t bring him back for 2023.
Wainwright just continues to defy Father Time. The three-time All-Star has been one of St. Louis’ most reliable arms and is a staple in the clubhouse, so it’s hard to imagine him in a new uniform next season.
8. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
Injuries have been an issue for Eovaldi throughout his career, including the 2022 season. That said, he can anchor a pitching staff when healthy. He showed that in 2021 with the Red Sox when he placed fourth in Cy Young voting. Don’t be surprised if Boston, thin in the pitching department heading into the offseason, looks to bring Eovaldi back for at least one more year.
2023 club option: $20 million
Morton has the stuff to continue pitching well into his 40s, but that $20 million price tag for 2023 may be too steep for the Atlanta Braves. If they decline Morton’s option, it shouldn’t take long for the two-time World Series champ to find a new home.
10. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
It’s fair to say Syndergaard’s days as a true Cy Young candidate are far behind him. The former Mets star remains a solid mid-rotation arm, but he hasn’t looked like “Thor” since 2018. Another one-year “prove it” deal could be best for Syndergaard this offseason as he looks to bounce back after a lackluster year in Anaheim and Philadelphia.