No projection post today, but instead, I present this quick comparison of six pitchers that were on the free agent market this offseason. All of them have now been signed by teams, to contracts varying in value and length. The ERA and K:BB ratio projections are from Fangraphs CHONE, the "Innings" column is an average of the player's past three years as a starter.
I was absolutely shocked to see how closely these pitchers matched up. If this were all we knew about these pitchers, you'd probably be comfortable giving a deal to all of them, they seem to be a group that's a bit worse than league average. Maybe you'd only commit to one year for a starter who seems to be less durable like D or E, and maybe you'd be willing to pay a bit more for a pitcher who has averaged over 200 innings the last three years like A or F. B and C probably fall somewhere in between. You would probably expect these pitchers to all get fairly similar deals, right? Well, that's not necessarily the case.
Pitcher A: Jon Garland; 1 year, $7.25 million
Pitcher B: Oliver Perez; 3 years, $36 million
Pitcher C: Braden Looper; 1 year, $4.75 million + incentives
Pitcher D: Odalis Perez; 1 year, $500,000 minor league deal
Pitcher E: Randy Wolf; 1 year, $5 million + incentives
Pitcher F: Jamie Moyer; 2 years, $13 million
Under no circumstances would I condone using only CHONE projections and innings averages to evaluate starting pitchers. But when these pitchers match up that closely in a projection system and get such varied deals, you wonder what's going on. I couldn't give you the actual strikeout and walk rates, or this would have been easy to figure out. It is interesting that Looper and Oliver Perez project at the same ratio even though they will achieve it in different ways.
I've covered my thoughts on the Looper deal already, but this puts the signing in context. We got a pretty nice deal in relation to the market, and after the tier of Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe, and Randy Johnson (and Sheets, before his injury), we got a pitcher that matches up very well with the six others in what I consider the second tier of free agent starting pitchers. Not only that, but we got him for the second-cheapest deal of the six, and didn't have to give up a draft pick to do it.