Detroit Tigers: 2016 Pitching Options Better than 2017


The time for the Detroit Tigers to sign starting pitchers is now. The 2016 free agent class of pitchers is significantly better than anyone on the 2017 list. Zack Greinke and David Price aside, the more affordable options in this year’s class make the 2017 class look like a bunch of has-beens. The Tigers certainly do not need any more starting pitchers who are closing in on their mid-30s with multiple injuries and ERAs above 4.00.  

Sep 26, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws to the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 class of free agents includes pitchers like the Chicago White Sox John Danks who has frequently led the AL in home runs against and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey who turned 41 in October. Jake Peavy and Jeremy Guthrie will be available, but they will be above age 35 by the time their free agency opens up at the end of the 2016 season. Edison Volquez will also be a free agency option, but only if the Kansas City Royals no longer want him. He will be 33 when the 2016 season ends. 

If the Tigers want to truly add a second or third “ace” to their rotation, they cannot wait. There are not any pitchers in the next draft that are in their prime and still throwing with impressive numbers other than Stephen Strasburg. He will be a young option in 2016 at 28, but he has already had Tommy John surgery. He will be one to watch in 2016, after pitching in 23 games and posting a 3.46 ERA.

The relief pitcher options for 2017 look slightly better than the starting pitchers options. Even though names like Joe Nathan and Joaquin Benoit are on the list (like they are in 2016), there are some exciting new additions like Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon. Greg Holland will be on the 2017 list, but he will spend 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The most exciting name in the 2017 free-agency relief pitcher list is the unhittable Wade Davis, but he will also have an option with the Royals (like this year) that could keep him in Kansas City even longer.

Mar 27, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The majority of the 2016 free agent pitchers are on the better side of 30 or at least pitch like they have yet to see that age. David Price and Johnny Cueto will be 30 when the 2016 season begins. Jeff Samardzija will be 31 when the 2016 season begins. Mike Leake just turned 28 and is even more affordable than All-Star pitchers on the top of the tiers. Greinke is one of the older options at 32, but he is pitching like a much younger pitcher. Scott Kazmir will be 32 with the 2016 season starts, too. 

Next: Time to Move Anibal Sanchez

With Justin Verlander turning 33 in January and Anibal Sanchez turning 32 a month later, the Tigers need to find a few pitchers this year who have the health and ability to take a few more years of wear and tear on their arms. Even the affordable and young Rick Porcello would be a better choice to return to Detroit for a few years than any of the 2017 options.