James Shields: Has three years and ~$30 million remaining on his contract, so he is getting expensive. However, that is still a good deal for a pitcher of his caliber. He will be 30 in 2012, so he is starting to get a little older. Should still be a dominating pitcher for next three years, but could regress a little in 2012. Value may never be higher than it is right now.
David Price: It doesn’t get much more valuable than a young, hard-throwing lefty. The Rays still have Price under control for four more years, but he is also about to get very expensive. Those four years could cost $50 million. And there is little hope for an extension at this point.
Wade Davis: A nice solid back-of-the-rotation starter that will eat innings. Rays still have Big Dub under control for the next six years for just $34.1 million. That’s a great deal. But Davis may also only be the 7th or 8th best starting pitcher in the organization. Could be attractive for other small- or mid-market teams looking for an affordable starting pitcher.
Jeff Niemann: He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year and is under team control for three more years. Those three years could cost ~$15 million without an extension. There are also injury risks as The Giraffe tends to need extra rest more often than the other guys. We have long been proponents of moving Niemann to the bullpen, but he has more value as a starting pitcher.
Jeremy Hellickson: The Rays still have Hellboy for five more years. But how good will he be? Since coming to the majors, his strikeouts are way down, and his walks are way up. Worst-case scenario is that he is a rich-man’s Andy Sonnanstine. That is, he lacks the stuff to dominate and gets too cute around the strikezone. Best-case is that he rediscovers his swing-and-miss potential and becomes a solid #2 or #3 starting pitcher. Also consider that his agent is Scott Boras, so there is no hope that he will sign an extension.
Alex Cobb: Cobb reminds a little of Wade Davis. That is, he will probably be a solid back-of-the-rotation innings eater. Some think his changeup will make him better than Davis. We need to see more first.
Alex Torres: We don’t know much about Torres yet. Great stuff, but he reminds us a little of Victor Zambrano. That is, we are not sure that he knows how to harness his stuff. Depending on what you believe his upside is, may only be the 6th best starting pitcher in the system.