Deep Dive: Available free agent right-handed starters

Big dogs: Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg (if he opts out) are the top right-handed starters of this year’s free agent class. (@GerritCole45)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

This article delves into the plentiful right-handed starter options that could be available this offseason. Be forewarned: The quality of these free agents does drop rather quickly.


The White Sox have just one dependable starter (Lucas Giolito) and several question marks to begin the 2020 season.

Will Reynaldo López finally show consistency? (To paraphrase the immortal Forrest Gump: “López starts are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”) Dylan Cease suffered through rookie inconsistencies, while Michael Kopech (expected return: April) and southpaw Carlos Rodón (could be back by the All-Star break) are coming back from Tommy John surgeries. None of the Charlotte starters who finished this season seem viable options, and the White Sox shouldn’t find themselves starting the likes of Dylan Covey, Ross Detwiler, Odrisamer Despaigne and/or Hector Santiago ever, ever again.

Thus, it’s likely that the White Sox will sign a No. 1-3 starter option, as well as a back-of-the rotation guy/swingman on the off-chance that Kopech isn’t ready on Opening Day. Here’s a ranking of the right-handed starter options that could be available, in order of bWAR; I will do a subsequent article regarding southpaw starting options in the near future. The stats, including bWAR, are through September 16.

(age as of April 1, 2020)

Gerrit Cole
Houston Astros
2019 bWAR 5.9
Stats
17-5, 2.62 ERA, 192.1 IP, 0.9 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 13.7 K/9
Age
29

Stephen Strasburg
Washington Nationals
2019 bWAR 5.8
Stats 17-6, 3.49 ERA, 196 IP, 1.06 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 10.8 K/9
Age 31

Strasburg can opt out of his current contract which has four years, $100 million remaining.

Zack Wheeler
New York Mets
2019 bWAR 3.5
Stats 11-7, 180.1 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Age 29

Julio Teheran
Atlanta Braves
2019 bWAR 3.1
Stats 10-9, 167.1 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Age 29

The Braves have a $12 million club option on Teheran, with a $500,000 buyout, so Teheran is very unlikely to be available.

Jake Odorizzi
Minnesota Twins
2019 bWAR 3.1
Stats 14-6, 147.1 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
Age 30

Yu Darvish
Chicago Cubs
2019 bWAR 2.8
Stats 6-6, 163.1 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.2 K/9
Age 33

Can opt out of four years, $81 million left on contract. Darvish has indicated he will not be opting out.

Andrew Cashner
Boston Red Sox
2019 bWAR 2.7
Stats 11-8, 142.1 IP, 4.49 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
Age 33

Tanner Roark
Oakland Athletics
2019 bWAR 2.5
Stats 10-8, 157.1 IP, 4.12 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
Age 33

Adam Wainright
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 bWAR 2.4
Stats 12-9, 155.1 IP, 4.00 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Age 38

Michael Pineda
Minnesota Twins
2019 bWAR 2.3
Stats 11-5, 146 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.7 BB/9, 8.6 K/9
Age 31

Pineda received a 60-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy. As a result, he likely wouldn’t be available to pitch until May of next year. Pineda’s younger brother, Ramon, pitches in the White Sox organization.

Iván Nova
Chicago White Sox
2019 bWAR 2.0
Stats 10-12, 176 IP, 4.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9
Age 33

Homer Bailey
Oakland Athletics
2019 bWAR 1.6
Stats 13-8, 151.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Age 33

Jake Arrieta
Philadelphia Phillies
2019 bWAR 1.0
Stats 8-8, 135.2 IP, 4.64 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
Age 34

Arrieta can opt out of one-year, $20 million remaining on contract unless Phillies exercise a two-year, $40 million option. Given Arrieta having bone spur surgery that ended his season in August, neither option seems likely.

Chris Archer
Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 bWAR 0.9
Stats 3-9, 119.2 IP, 5.19 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.8 K/9
Age 31

The Pirates have a $9 million club option on Archer for 2020, which could be bought out for $1.75 million. That buyout seems very unlikely, even given Archer’s awful season.

Rick Porcello
Boston Red Sox
2019 bWAR 0.6
Stats 13-12, 162.1 IP, 5.77 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
Age 31

Kyle Gibson
Minnesota Twins
2019 bWAR 0.4
Stats 13-7, 155 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9
Age 32

Michael Wacha
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 bWAR 0.2
Stats 6-7, 121 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Age 28

Clay Buchholz
Toronto Blue Jays
2019 bWAR 0.2
Stats 1-5, 46.1 IP, 5.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 4.9 K/9
Age 35

Edinson Volquez
Texas Rangers
2019 bWAR 0.2
Stats 0-2, 12.2 IP, 5.68 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 7.8 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
Age 36

Tyson Ross
Detroit Tigers
2019 bWAR -0.1
Stats 1-5, 35.1 IP, 6.11 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 4.6 BB, 6.4 K/9
Age 32

Jhoulys Chacin
Boston Red Sox
2019 bWAR -0.1
Stats 3-10, 94.1 IP, 5.44 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Age 32

Jeremy Hellickson
Washington Nationals
2019 bWAR -0.3
Stats 2-3, 39 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
Age 32

Corey Kluber
Cleveland Indians
2019 bWAR -0.4
Stats 2-3, 35.2 IP, 5.80 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
Age 33

The Indians have a $17.5 million club option on Kluber for 2020, which could be bought out for $1 million. With Trevor Bauer gone, it seems a wise move to pick up Kluber’s option, and that’s just what Cleveland has indicated it will do.

Marco Estrada
Oakland Athletics
2019 bWAR -0.4
Stats 0-2, 23.2 IP, 6.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 4.2 K/9
Age 36

Ervin Santana
New York Mets
2019 bWAR -0.4
Stats 0-2, 13.1 IP, 9.45 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 3.4 K/9
Age 37

Trevor Cahill
Los Angeles Angels
2019 bWAR -0.5
Stats 3-9, 97 IP, 6.31 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 7.10 K/9
Age 32

Matt Harvey
Los Angeles Angels
2019 bWAR -0.6
Stats 3-5, 59.2 IP, 7.09 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 5.9 K/9
Age 31

Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners
2019 bWAR -0.6
Stats 1-6, 61.1 IP, 6.31 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.5 K/9
Age 33

Shelby Miller
Texas Rangers
2019 bWAR -0.9
Stats 1-3, 44 IP, 8.59 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 5.9 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
Age 29

Edwin Jackson
Detroit Tigers
2019 bWAR -2.4
Stats 3-10, 64 IP, 9.70 ERA, 2.02 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
Age 36


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Jorge was intimidated
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Jorge was intimidated
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I think we should go all out for Cole (Ventura could use a little sweet revenge at this point), and maybe get Nova again if there’s no interest later on this list…Can you imagine the WS with Cole and Kopech down the road? (Two Sales!) Thanks for your article, ’77 was my favorite all around Sox season and “outlaw country” season in the world as well.