Free Agency Analysis: Top 10 Pitchers

The hot stove is up and running, and that means our attention has turned to the free agent class. With some clubs hesitant to hand out the big dollars and others ready to open their checkbooks, it's shaping up to be a fascinating off-season. Here's a look at the ten best pitchers on this year's free agent market.

1. Zack Greinke, RHP

Greinke is an easy choice for top free agent pitcher in the class. But, he's not a slam dunk choice for some of the traditional big market spenders. Most in the industry agree that he's a far better fit somewhere like Milwaukee, or remaining in a place he's gotten comfortable like with the Angels. Despite his billing of best available arm, there still has to be wariness of the the extra years it may take to land him.

2. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP

There's more than a little to be said for a right-handed pitcher who switches leagues and has one of the best seasons of his career pitching for the New York Yankees. Few free agents have done that, and most have crashed and burned. So, if he's open to it, Kuroda could have a feeding frenzy for his services. Because of his age, he's not landing a long term deal, but someone will pay a hefty price for a year or two for a consistent and sometimes dominant innings eater. The Yankees and Dodgers remain the front runners for his services.

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP

If rumors are true, Anibal Sanchez comes with a staggering price tag. But, the odds of him actually receiving the $90 million he apparently desires are slim. But, at 28-years-old, his age does work in his favor of getting a fairly lengthy contract. And, playoff performances stick in people's memories, and Sanchez was superb in October. But, there's one thing that will jump out for teams looking at Sanchez this winter. His stuff in 2012 was better than it's ever been before. He posted his highest average velocity since reaching the big leagues at 91.8 mph, and he also used a higher percentage of secondary pitches than he ever has before. So, what you're looking at is a pitcher putting it all together in terms of stuff and command.

4. Edwin Jackson, RHP

Edwin Jackson has taken the term journeyman to a new level, even at just 29-years-old. Here's a strong right-handed pitcher with powerful stuff, but he simply has not been consistent enough to land himself a long term job with a team. He's on the move again this off-season following another tantalizing but inconsistent season in Washington.

5. Kyle Lohse, RHP

There seems to be a general sense around baseball that Lohse has been an overachiever the past couple seasons. And, that has made him difficult to value on the free agent market. He's been a winning machine the last two years, but he's also a 34-year-old finesse pitcher. Not to take away from Lohse's accomplishments, but this is an example of a pitcher teams need to be very careful about overpaying for.

6. Dan Haren, RHP

Haren may be the wildcard of this free agent class. 2012 could have been the beginning of a decline, or some team may get a bargain on a pitcher set to have a huge bounce back season. The right-hander has lingering health questions and he saw his velocity drop precipitously in 2012. Which Haren will show up in 2013? Suitors like the San Diego Padres are hoping they'll land the pitcher who averaged over 230 innings pitched per season in the previous three years.

7. Rafael Soriano, RHP

Soriano wants to go be a full-time closer again, and he should. He handled the role beautifully while filling the biggest of shoes in New York. And, given the lack of competition he has on this year's free agent market, he should easily get the years and the big dollars he is seeking.

8. Ryan Dempster, RHP

Dempster proved a lot of talent evaluators correct this summer, as he did indeed have his share of struggles against American League opposition. In doing so, he likely hurt his stock as a free agent, which is also hampered by the fact that he's 35-years-old.

9. Shaun Marcum, RHP

You're getting a pretty safe bet with Marcum. Take a look at the numbers over the last three seasons and you see a pitcher that is extremely consistent. In other words, Marcum's name may not invoke excitement, but this pedestrian class of pitchers will be a benefit to him.

10. Brandon McCarthy, RHP

McCarthy has had a hard time catching a break health wise, and taking a frightening line drive to the head in 2012 further illustrates that. What an evaluator sees from the lanky right-hander, however, is a pitcher coming into his own over the last couple seasons. This may be a guy that could pay off huge for a team at a relatively reasonable price.

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