Yovani Gallardo

The biggest name in the free agency market among starting pitchers is Yovani Gallardo, who’ll probably end up returning to the Texas Rangers or signing with one of three teams: The Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays or Colorado Rockies.

Gallardo had more teams chasing him before, but both the Houston Astros (with Doug Fister) and the Kansas City Royals (through Ian Kennedy signing) are off that list, not going to spend more on a starting pitcher, especially when it comes with a draft pick that has to go. Gallardo is reliable and rather solid but far from a perfect solution to rotation problems. He simply adds depth and from time to time, quality.

Money of course is also an issue. Gallardo waived the qualifying offer ($15.8 million) after making $14 million last season for the Rangers. The way the market has developed for him and other veterans who thought they’d be getting a sweeter deal (like Howie Kendrick, settling for $21 million over two years, staying with the Los Angeles Dodgers) means he might take a lot less than he planned on, with teams not too eager to throw a lot of money at proven veterans, preferring the cheaper way of building on youngsters, hoping they become something big.

Not that Gallardo isn’t a good player, but anyone who should have a significant impact on a team has been signed. Gallardo? He has pitched 180 innings or more in each of the last seven seasons. That’s about the best you can say about a player who has a 1.78 Strikeout-to-walk ratio and posted a 1.416 WHIP last season, the worst of his career. He is only 30, which means he’ll probably be solid-to-good for a few more years.

So why not come back to the Rangers? Money seems to be the issue, with the Rangers from the start showing signs they won’t go hard after Gallardo, but recent developments make it a bit more possible for them to re-sign him after one season with the team. The Blue Jays might be in the same boat, possibly focused on re-signing and not going overboard on spending, but they remain alert to developments, hoping the price goes down.

And then there are the Orioles and Rockies. Both have a bit of money to spend, but for different reasons are still not signing him. The Orioles don’t want to give up the 14th overall pick in the draft, thinking Gallardo isn’t worth it. The Rockies would only need to give up a second round pick, but for now, their general manager seems to be downplaying the potential move, although for a team with clear needs in that area and a lot riding on next season, making such a signing is not just writers trying to connect the dots.

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