The best free agent left on the market is Yovani Gallardo, who is likely to end up with the two teams most interested in adding a starting pitcher: The Houston Astros or the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ian Kennedy hasn’t been better than Gallardo over the last two or three years, be he was signed before him, getting a five-year, $70 million deal from the Kansas City Royals. Gallardo made $14 million last season with the Texas Rangers, but it’ll be interesting for how much he goes for. He doesn’t strikeout batters quite like Kennedy, but his ERA is better and like Kennedy, he’s played enough games in recent years (30 games or more since 2009 each season) and his WHIP last season isn’t indicative of his previous body of work.
The problem for Gallardo when looking at his numbers is his declining strikeout production (just 5.9 per nine innings last season) and his poor K/Walks ratio, at 1.77 last season. His 4.1 WAR last season was the best of his career, but just like the bad numbers might be a one time thing, so can the good numbers be. In short, he’s a solid option for the fourth or fifth pitcher on a very good team, but anyone seeing him as one of the top two starting pitchers on a contender probably doesn’t have high expectations.
So does he end up with? Now that the Royals are no longer in the market for a starting pitcher, and the Baltimore Orioles don’t have any money left to throw around after signing Chris Davis, and the St. Louis Cardinals already giving Mike Leake $80 million for five years, it’s going to be either the Blue Jays or the Astros. These two teams aren’t eager to spend but with both of them looking to make some sort of impact before spring training begins, it’s probably going to be Gallardo, benefitting from the two of them not seeing any serious option other than him at the moment.