11/10/08 12:00 AM EST
Texas enters pitching market cautiously
Veteran free agents available, but Rangers weary of big contracts
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers spent the General Managers Meetings trying to gauge the trade market for starting pitching.
The next step is to gauge the free-agent market. It is deep in starting pitching, although some of the biggest names available
are in the twilight of their careers and may be ready for retirement. If this was 1999, this could be the greatest starting pitching
market in the history of the game.
But it's 2008, and it's still buyer beware. The Rangers are exactly that and have made it clear they are not going to give out
expensive long-term contracts to starting pitchers. They consider it the biggest risk in baseball.
The list is still worth considering for a team desperate to bolster its rotation. Much needs to be considered, including recent
performance, age and history of injury. Print and save this list:
CC Sabathia: The biggest name on the list, literally and figuratively. Sabathia won 17 games for the Indians and the Brewers
last year and is 28. His next contract could exceed $20 million annually. That's too rich for the Rangers. Sabathia is 2-3 with a
7.92 ERA in five playoff starts and has lost three straight.
Ben Sheets: He lives in the Dallas area. That didn't help the Rangers last year with outfielder Torii Hunter. Sheets was on his
way to a big payday until he was shut down with elbow problems in September. He has been on the disabled list six times in
his career and hasn't pitched 200 innings since 2004.
A.J. Burnett: He opted out of his contract with the Blue Jays after a career-high 18 wins and 221 1/3 innings in 2008. It was
only the third time in nine years that he pitched 200 innings and the first time he has won more than 12 games. He has been
on the disabled list 10 times in nine years.
Derek Lowe: He is 35, but is one of the most durable pitchers on the market. Since becoming