The Young guns: Some may have struggled to make it in the majors, some have done ok but not what we expected and some are just hoping for a job with the big club. Any one of them has a chance to surprise and could be worthy of one of your last picks over some of the retreads.
Sonny Gray (A’s): Until this year his minor league numbers were average at best. He could continue at the pace he’s set, but odds are there will be some regression if he does land a starting job.
Taijuan Walker (Mariners): He has the goods but will have to compete for a starting job. Odds are he starts the year in AAA so monitor him this spring and draft accordingly.
Erasmo Ramirez (Mariners): Another one competing for a job with the Mariners. Doesn’t have the upside of Walker, but could turn into a solid starting pitcher.
Martin Perez (Rangers): Expect growing pains if he starts in the majors as I don’t trust the new found control he exhibited last year.
Jaime Garcia (Cardinals): Should have a spot secured, but you never know with the Cardinals. He should give you solid all around numbers.
Joe Kelly (Cardinals): Would have a guaranteed spot on almost any other team. He will have to duke it out with Michael Wacha and maybe Jamie Garcia for a starting job.
Nathan Eovaldi (Marlins): Wins will be hard to come by with the Marlins, but he’s shown improvement in the rest of his game. No breakout here, but a good ERA, decent WHIP and maybe 150 strikeouts.
Michael Pineda (Yankees): All he has to show so far is a breakout year for the Mariners and calluses on his backside from sitting on the DL. He could either be rusty or well rested, flip a coin.
Jacob Turner (Marlins): Like Eovaldi, expect a low win total. Walks are still a problem but strikeouts are coming around. Pitching in Miami will keep his ERA in check; his WHIP has a chance to hurt you though.
Alex Wood (Braves): He will probably have to wait for a spot to open up for him in the rotation. He could either start the year in AAA or spend the year pitching in relief.
Tanner Roark (Nationals): If he starts in the majors he may surprise some, but expect him to regress and put up numbers closer to his first year in AAA as the league adjusts to him. Don’t buy into last year’s audition numbers, they aren’t real.
The Old Reliable: These are the players that are either late draft picks or guys you pick up off waivers to fill out your roster when the players you drafted falter. They have no upside but they can eat innings and get the job done without hurting your ratios too much. They might even have one good season left.
Jason Vargas (Royals): If he signs someplace with a spacious home field, he’s a good play for at least half his games and some road games depending on the opponent.
Tim Hudson (Giants): He’s not a source of strikeouts and his ERA will be close to 4.00, but he can still give you a good WHIP and double-digit wins if he signs with a winner.
Bronson Arroyo (Free Agent): Double digit wins, 120 strikeouts, 1.20 WHIP and 3.70 WHIP. These aren’t the numbers that can win your league but they can stabilize the back-end of your staff.
Kyle Loshe (Brewers): Take what I said about Arroyo and apply it here, except the ERA could be slightly lower.
Paul Maholm (Free Agent): He has those stretches where he’s a good player to roster, but overall he’s just here to eat innings, get you a few wins and maybe a handful of strikeouts per game while not hurting your ERA and WHIP too much.
Bartolo Colon (Mets): His ERA and WHIP say draft me, and if he didn’t turn 41-years-old in May I’d be telling you to. I’d like to believe he can keep it up, but conventional wisdom is against that. His new home will determine his overall value.
Wandy Rodriguez (Pirates): 3.65 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 130-150 strikeouts and double-digit wins. Just like Arroyo, he’s a decent anchor for the back of your staff.
Slim Shady: These guys were usually taken in the top half of the draft, but somewhere along the way something went wrong. They either lost their mojo or have dealt with injuries and aren’t recovering well. They could rank in the top 74 and perform well, but they could also implode. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? Draft them where you see fit.
Josh Johnson (Padres): The velocity and the strikeouts are still there, but the control has diminished the past two years, his hit/9 has gone up and this year he couldn’t keep the ball in the park. There could be a comeback story here, but don’t waste a high pick to find out.
Roy Halladay (Retired): According to fangraphs, players over the age of 35 that have gone on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings over the course of the rest of their career. Not a ringing endorsement for Roy.
Dan Haren (Dodgers): His fastball has been less than 90 MPH for 2 straight years. Combine that with a 4.33 and 4.67 ERA the past two seasons and things don’t look promising.
Fragile, Handle with Care: These guys just can’t seem to stay healthy. They may break if you place them on your roster to hard so like the title say, handle with care.
Brandon McCarthy (Diamondbacks): 25 games with 170.2 innings was his best season and this year’s 135 inning performance was his second best. You can get wins and a good ERA from someone else.
Brandon Morrow (Blue Jays): He almost played a full season in 2011. He spent his first two years as a relief pitcher, he might be better off if he returned to the pen.
The Best of the Rest: These guys don’t fall into any of the above categories, the title says it all.
Marco Estrada (Brewers): Coming into his own at age 30. He has good strikeout numbers but gives up to many long balls. He could be a stable arm for the back-end of your rotation.
Tyson Ross (Padres): Could be worth starting at home if he lands a starting job this spring.
Jeremy Hellickson (Rays): The strikeouts numbers he showed us in the minors didn’t make their way to the majors. He did lower his BB this year and could turn things around at age 27.
Ricky Nolasco (Twins): It was a career year and nothing more. Don’t believe the hype.
Scott Kazmir (A’s): His ratios are average at best, but at least the strikeouts have returned.
Dillon Gee (Mets): His minor league numbers suggest he’s not going to be much better than we saw this year. There might be slight improvements but nothing more.
Felix Doubront (Red Sox): The lower home run totals helped his ERA, but the high walks aren’t going to help his WHIP. You’re drafting double-digit wins and strikeouts and hoping for a good ERA.
Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies): He’s a 33-year-old pitcher that can show flashes of brilliance but is nothing more than a below average pitcher. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Edwin Jackson (Cubs): Edwin is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. A whip between 1.2 and 1.45, and ERA between 3.5 and 5.0, wins between 6 and 14. He’s a stable back-end starter, a waiver wire spot starter or a waste of space. Spin the wheel and see where it lands.
Ubaldo Jimenez (Free Agent): His walks have always been a problem, but his ERA and strikeouts returned this year. Flip a coin on if he has rebounded or just had a good year.
Alexi Ogando (Rangers): Could make a good starter if he has a rotation spot, but might not have the stamina to last the full year.
Don’t You…Forget about Me: Players that have little to no chance of playing in 2014 but could make a nice injury stash for 2015 in keeper or dynasty leagues.
Matt Harvey (Mets): The future Ace of the Mets and somebody to stash even in leagues with limited keeper numbers. There is top 10 potential here.
Daniel Hudson (Diamondbacks): Hudson suffered a second tear in his UCL and there is a chance he won’t be pitching in 2014 at all. He has some decent upside and is a good pitcher, and while he may be useless for 2014 he’s a name to keep in the back of your head for 2015. By that time most of your opponents will have forgotten about him. Don’t be that guy.
In addition there are about 20 names that I did not feature that were listed earlier when I covered this year’s free agent class. If you don’t see who you are looking for just ask. I’ve gone through a slew of names and some might have fallen through the cracks (nobody’s perfect). You can submit your questions in the comment section below or hit me up on twitter @TheJimFinch.
Be sure to check out the entire Top 24 for 2014 Series.