Looking for a solid free-agent starter but don’t want to spend big? Have no fear, there are a few options.
When it comes to starting pitching, there is no doubt that Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish will hog all the attention this offseason. On top of that, both right-handers will also command lump sums of cash. There is also Japanese starter (and left-handed hitter) Shohei Otani who may attract all 30 teams as suitors.
Cashner, 31, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Rangers despite having one of the best seasons of his career. The righty made 28 starts for Texas, recording a 3.40 ERA in a 166.2 innings. Most of his numbers don’t jump off the page, but Cashner’s 4.6 WAR is certainly an exception.
Always a promising pitcher in his early years with the Padres, Cashner struggled with injuries. He’s been healthy the past three seasons — making 86 starts — but he struggled mightily in 2015 and 2016. After an all-around successful 2017, Cashner could make for strong addition for bargain-hunting teams.
Like Cashner, Chacin was not extended a qualifying offer despite having a career year for the Padres.
Healthy and pitching as a full-time starter for the first time since 2014, Chacin went 13-10 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.270 WHIP in 180.1 innings for a lowly San Diego team. He was effectively wild, issuing 3.6 BB/9 while leading the league in hit by pitches.
At 29 years old, Chacin still has room for improvement and could provide a staff with some depth.
Vargas missed the majority of the 2015 and 2016 seasons after Tommy John surgery. At 34, however, the southpaw came back in 2017 and outperformed expectations for Kansas City.
Sure, wins are no longer the benchmark they once were, but Vargas’ 18 tied with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco for the league lead. Like Cashner, his WAR (3.8) stands out from his other numbers.
Vargas won’t be on the top of anyone’s list, but he’s a solid veteran pickup for any team in need of a fifth man after making 32 starts for the Royals last year.
Now 36, Iwakuma is the oldest pitcher on this list. The Mariners just declined the righty’s option after shoulder troubles limited him to six starts in 2017. He had surgery on his throwing side in September, at which point Seattle said he would resume throwing in five months.
That said, Iwakuma has the potential to come back strong from injury much like Vargas did last year. He’s been a dependable pitcher since coming over from Japan, going 63-37 with a 3.39 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 16.5 WAR between 2012 and 2016.
Given his health, he should come especially cheap.