SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Everyone wants pitching, with some major-market teams seeking two starters, making for a very robust market.
At least the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels and Mets are thought to be aiming for two (or more) starters, and one team is saying every last dollar is going to its rotation. Viable starters are primed to hit the jackpot.
The uber-reliable Aaron Nola is said to be seeking $200 million, and who’s to say he doesn’t get it? The Phillies are talking to Nola first, but were $100M apart in spring. If they can’t bridge a gap wider than the Schuylkill River, the Phillies will likely replace him with another ace.
Certain NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell is looking higher, and while agent Scott Boras is pointing out Snell’s similarities with Randy Johnson at age 30 (Snell has limited hitters to a .204 average at age 30 vs. .209 for Johnson), some see the best comp as Stephen Strasburg, who got $245M for seven years.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is a third ace who could become the first $200M pitcher from Japan (not counting Shohei Ohtani, who’s a hitter, for today anyway).
Jordan Montgomery won’t get $200M, but he may come closer than you think after finishing strong with the champion Rangers, highlighted by his domination of the rival Astros in the ALCS. Montgomery is believed to prefer a return to Texas to St. Louis or The Bronx, his previous stops. Eduardo Rodriguez could double the $49M he opted out of, and the Cardinals, Red Sox and Phillies look like possible contenders there. Marcus Stroman also made the right call to opt out of his $21M Cubs option. Lefty Shota Imanaga, Japan’s No. 4 starter in the WBC, also is very popular.
Sonny Gray, a finalist for AL Cy Young, could probably get a four-year deal but may actually prefer three. Lucas Giolito is expected to be in the $50M to $80M range, even after allowing at least eight earned runs in a game three times this season — and for three different teams.
Seth Lugo who was right to try starting, could get three years. So might talented Jack Flaherty, who didn’t make the playoff rotation for the Orioles. Michael Lorenzen, who faded after an All-Star first half with the Tigers and a no-hitter in start No. 2 with Philly, will get multiple years.
James Paxton, Hyun-Jim Ryu and many others are still popular following injuries. And Erick Fedde is coveted after being the top pitcher in Korea following a winter in which only two teams made any offer, one being the Yankees, who wanted to option him right away.