Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Friday – Starting Pitching

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Aug 9, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano (ledt) observes pitching coach Ray Searage (right) before playing the Los Angeles Dodgers against at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Every Friday this offseason, we’ll post our Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Friday piece, in which we’ll discuss a player, a group of players, a position of need, or some other topic related to the Pirates and free agency. We’ll go in-depth with stats and analysis as we hope to keep you fully informed and occupied this offseason.

Seeing as how we graded out Gerrit Cole this morning, it only makes sense that we spend this week’s Free Agent Friday looking at the starting pitching market.

The starting pitching market is absolutely flooded with options this year for teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Whereas last year’s market was top-heavy with the likes of Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, this year’s crop finds much more talent in the mid-range.

That talent includes mid-2015 acquisition J.A. Happ. We’ve previously written about Happ here, and today we will focus on other options available. With Cole and Francisco Liriano solid at the top of the rotation, and Charlie Morton‘s contract making him nigh unmovable, the Pirates will be looking to add one starter at minimum. That number could swell to two should the front-office brass decide they’ve had their fill of Jeff Locke.

All things being equal, the sharp uptick in Happ’s performance after just a short time as a Pirate leads many – including myself – to believe that he is the top target for the team to round out the rotation. Clearly that is the right move, as having already worked with the Pirates to improve his mechanics and pitch selection has given him a leg up on any other viable option.

Today we will use MLB Trade Rumors’ excellent Free Agent Tracker to help us identify who’s on the market and then give you our analysis. Because the market is so deep, we’ll spotlight a few pitchers that carry a few different labels.

Let’s start by identifying some obvious projects

Next: The Reclamations