A quick rundown of the key free-agent pitchers who switched teams this offseason, along with the total value of their new contracts. Options are listed separately; bonuses are included in the total listed value of the contract.
Most of the buzz this offseason has been about SP Carlton Fleming. Fleming leaves the Toledo Greensox for the Louisville Legends, signing a somewhat controversial 4 year, $55.4 million contract with a mutual option for a 5th season at $17.1 million. Louisville is trying to catch Monterrey and Milwaukee for supremacy in the AL- does this signing help or just tie up funds?
The other big-time pitcher on the market was Ajax Drabek, who goes from the Anaheim Chiles to the Seattle Killer Whales at a price of 3 years, $26.5 million. Seattle, trying to follow the Chicago blueprint, wants to get better in a hurry, hence this signing as well as the signing of 3B Eddie Linton (2 years, $9.6 million). Only time will tell if these signings make sense- Drabek is already 35 years old and the Whales may be a few seasons away from contention.
After Fleming and Drabek, there are three second tier pitchers who cashed in on the open market. Former Diamondback hurler Vin Bautista signed a 3-year, $15.5 million deal (with a team option at $5 million for the fourth year of the contract) with the Nashville Sounds. He'll team with Ham Bruske and company to try and get the Sounds past the juggernaut Monterrey Sultans in the AL South. Meanwhile, Tony Howell leaves Toronto to pitch for the Charlotte Blue Devils, signing a 3-year, $21.8 million contract. Christian Lyons started 35 games for Durham last season- instead of following the team to Jackson, he stopped at Atlanta and became a Bandit for 3 years, $16 million. He'll team up with their young core of starting pitchers.
Three good relievers switched teams. King Burns (3 years, $13 million) will leave New Orleans to join Howell in Charlotte. Rob Gilmore (3 years, $15 million) saved 32 games for Boise last season- he will not join the team in Scottsdale, opting to sign with Trenton instead. And Vince Perez leaves one division winner for another, taking a 2-year, $4.8 million contract from Anaheim, as he becomes a former Houston Riverdog.