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The Market for Pitchers

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A common thought among baseball fans like...

"Since there are a larger number of starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is good for my team because we need pitching"

I would like to challenge that argument. I do believe a larger market can be an advantage for some teams. I don't believe that a larger market can be good for every team that needs pitching. Many teams need pitching. If the market is an advantage for some, doesn't it need to be a disadvantage for others?

In a large market both of these elements are in play...

1) There are more free agent pitchers available. Sounds good for teams like the Twins that have openings.

2) More teams have opening in their rotation. Sounds bad for a team like the Twins as their is more competition in the market.

The starting pitching environment really remains constant.

1) The demand does not change from year to year. The number of jobs for starting pitchers is a constant.

2) The supply may change, but it can not be measured by counting the free agent pitchers. An accounting of all major league pitchers would be necessary. Is there an influx into the market of new pitchers that exceeds the number of starters no longer effective and exiting the market?

I think it is more likely that the market will not help the Twins. With more buyers in the market, teams have to do something to become more attractive. How else attract the more desirable free agents?

How can the Twins make themselves more attractive?

These might be factors.

- Dollars offered
- Years offered
- A teams record the previous season
- The coaching staff and particularly pitching coach
- The medical staff
- Geographical location
- Opportunities for endorsements
- Facilities

Would any objective look at these factors come to the conclusion that the Twins are an attractive place to sign as a free agent pitcher?

I wouldn't think so.

I think one could argue that the large number of job openings will actually be a detriment to the Twins ability to address pitching through free agency.

I think they will have two options.

1) Sign the less desirable pitchers who are in decline and on the way out of the market.

2) Overpay for middling free agents risking crippling contract obligations in the future.

So which teams will benefit from a larger market of starting pitching?

We might look at previous years of large markets and see which teams came out ahead. That may be difficult to study due to sample size.

We might try to project whether there will be an increase in pitching supply. That is not as simple as counting free agents, but it is the only way to truly measure the market.
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  1. beckmt's Avatar
    Best way for the Twins would be to trade for pitching. Difficult but it can be done because several small market teams are looking for Cost Controled hitting. This should work to the Twins advantage if we do not pay too much or buy the wrong pitcher. Oakland, Seattle and Tampa Bay all fit this profile. Washington is another option, but has a higher budget.
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