MLB free agents highlighted by Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields – SB Nation

There is an abundance of top-flight starting pitching available on the open market right … about … now.

The World Series might be over, but there is still plenty of baseball excitement remaining now that free agency officially began as of 9 a.m. ET Thursday.

Plenty of front of the rotation starters are available for the right price this offseason, including 2013 American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off of a superb three-year run in which he has posted a 3.24 ERA/127 ERA+ while striking out 10.5 batters per nine innings. Scherzer reportedly turned down a six-year, $144 million extension offer from the Tigers earlier this year.

Jon Lester didn’t get a chance to build upon his impressive postseason resume because of a poor outing in the AL Wild Card play-in game, but that shouldn’t hurt his stock on the open market. Lester pitched well for the Athletics after being acquired in a midseason trade from the Red Sox, posting a 2.35 ERA with 71 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 76⅔ innings. Overall, 2014 was an impressive bounce-back year for the 30-year-old lefty, who put up a career-low walk rate and his highest strikeout rate since 2010.

Speaking of not helping his stock in the postseason, James Shields likely still has a bitter taste in his mouth after surrendering 15 runs in 19 innings for the Royals in October, but the 32-year-old righty should still command decent money this offseason. Shields has eclipsed 227 innings in each of the last three seasons and owns a 3.17 ERA/124 ERA+ with 8.0 SO/9 and 2.3 BB/9 during that time.

Here’s a list of newly minted free agents by position:

Catchers

John Buck, Angels
Ryan Doumit, Red Sox
Gerald Laird, Braves
Russell Martin, <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" …read more

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