The Major League Baseball offseason is where teams can change their fortunes around and fix some big holes on their roster to become an instant contender. And those in need of help in their rotation will certainly be looking to add some of the big-name players available in free agency.
Here’s our list of the top ten starting pitchers available in the 2023-24 offseason as free agency begins to ramp up.
10. Lucas Giolito
- 2023 team: CWS/LAA/CLE
- 2023 stats: 184.1 Innings Pitched, 4.88 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 204 Strikeouts
Giolito has always been seen as a talented pitcher who has failed to put it all together to truly become an elite-level starter. That being said, it’s hard to blame him for a disappointing 2023 season.
The eight-year MLB veteran spent time on three different organizations this past season, starting the year with the Chicago White Sox before being traded at the deadline to the Los Angeles Angels. He was then shockingly waived by the Angels as a cost-cutting attempt, landing with the Cleveland Guardians off waivers.
That kind of turnover is enough to make any player struggles, as there simply wasn’t much consistency for Giolito last season.
Giolito may never be a top-of-the-rotation type starter for a team. But a contending team can do far worse than him as a fourth or fifth starter.
9. Eduardo Rodríguez
- 2023 team: DET
- 2023 stats: 152.2 Innings Pitched, 3.30 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, 143 Strikeouts
Rodriguez has become a bit of an afterthought to most MLB fans, largely due to him being stuck on a subpar Detroit Tigers team. However, the former World Series champion quietly had a great season in 2023, leading the Tigers in nearly every important pitching category.
The southpaw declined his player option with the Tigers earlier this month, which certainly makes him an intriguing option for teams in need of a proven commodity to fill in the back end of a rotation.
8. Marcus Stroman
- 2023 team: CHC
- 2023 stats: 136.2 Innings Pitched, 3.58 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, 119 Strikeouts
Stroman’s 2023 season was a tale of two halves. In the first half of the year, it looked like Stroman was going to be a potential Cy Young candidate in the National League. The second half of his season was marred by a rib injury, and his production faltered as a result.
If a potential free-agent suitor can unlock the production he showed off early last season, they will have a terrific pitcher on their hands who can be a difference maker in any rotation.
7. Clayton Kershaw
- 2023 team: LAD
- 2023 stats: 131.2 Innings Pitched, 2.46 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 137 Strikeouts
Not much even really needs to be said about Kershaw. He’s a three-time Cy Young winner, a former NL MVP, and a ten-time All-Star coming off another excellent 2023 season.
The only reason he’s not higher on this list is because there are some serious questions about his future. Kershaw recently had surgery on his throwing shoulder, which was a lingering injury that affected his availability in the 2023 season.
In all likelihood, Kershaw will re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers; he’s spent his entire 16-year career with the organization. But if he does surprise people and choose to play elsewhere, he should remain one of the most efficient pitchers in all of baseball who would generate some serious interest across the league.
6. Jordan Montgomery
- 2023 team: STL/TEX
- 2023 stats: 188.2 Innings Pitcher, 3.20 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 166 Strikeouts
Montgomery started his 2023 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was perhaps the lone bright spot on a very disappointing Cardinals team.
He was then traded to the Texas Rangers and played a big role in their World Series title run.
His impressive postseason play should earn him a big payday in free agency, and he profiles to be one of the better middle-of-the-rotation options in all of baseball.
5. Sonny Gray
- 2023 team: MIN
- 2023 stats: 184.0 Innings Pitched, 2.79 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 183 Strikeouts
Gray has been an underrated pitcher for much of his career. But his 2023 season matched up very favorably amongst the elite pitchers in baseball.
The three-time All-Star finished the 2023 season in the top five in starting pitcher WAR (wins above replacement). At 34 years of age, he may not get the long-term deal that he’s hoping for in free agency. But he should certainly garner a ton of interest around the league as a potential second or third starter on a championship-caliber team.
4. Aaron Nola
- 2023 team: PHI
- 2023 stats: 193.2 Innings Pitched, 4.46 ERA, 1.151 WHIP, 202 Strikeouts
Nola had a bit of a down year in 2023 with the Phillies, sporting the uncharacteristically high ERA for someone with his skillset.
However, his play in the postseason was far more impressive, allowing only six earned runs in 23 innings pitched. His strikeout ability alone should earn him a big payday in free agency.
Those looking to bring him in are likely banking on his ERA to return back to the norm in 2024.
3. Yoshinobu Yamamoto
- 2023 team: Orix Buffaloes (Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan)
- 2023 stats: 164.o Innings Pitched, 1.16 ERA, 0.884 WHIP, 176 Strikeouts
Baseball fans around the world have been eagerly awaiting Yamamoto’s jump to the MLB. And now that he’s officially an MLB free agent, he profiles to be one of the top pitchers available in the 2023 free agent class.
At just 25 years of age, he’s already a five-time NPB All-Star, a three-time ERA champion, and a two-time Triple Crown champion.
It obviously still remains to be seen how he’ll adjust to the MLB once he does arrive. But his best baseball is still likely ahead of him, and his eye-popping numbers in the NPB are already making him an extremely sought-after free agent.
2. Blake Snell
- 2023 team: SDP
- 2023 stats: 180.0 Innings Pitched, 2.25 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, 234 Strikeouts
Snell is coming off perhaps the best 2023 season of any pitcher in baseball, which was unfortunately wasted on a disappointing Padres team.
He’ll in all likelihood be named the 2023 Cy Young winner in the National League once the award winner is announced later this week.
The left-hander is slightly ahead of Yamamoto as a free-agent target because he’s proven his worth at the MLB level. If he pitches anything like he did in 2023 moving forward, he could certainly be the No. 1 pitcher on any World Series candidate.
1. Shohei Ohtani
- 2023 team: LAA
- 2023 stats: 132.0 Innings Pitched, 3.14 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, 167 Strikeouts
I’ll admit it. This is a bit of a cop-out choice as the No. 1 free agent pitcher, largely because he’s also an MVP-caliber hitter which puts his value far over any other player in baseball.
Fans have been awaiting Ohtani’s free agency for quite some time now; nearly every team in the league will show him at least some interest. His upcoming contract is set to be a record-setting deal regardless of where he signs.
There’s one area of concern with Ohtani when it comes to his pitching ability- his injury towards the end of the 2023 season. He underwent elbow surgery at the end of the 2023 season, which will likely make him purely a hitter for the 2024 season.
Ohtani is expected to return to mound for the 2025 season, which is just an added bonus for whichever team he does ultimately sign with this offseason.
- Kenta Maeda
- Mike Clevinger
- Shōta Imanaga
- Jack Flaherty
- Kyle Gibson