Free Agent Pitchers Not Named Gerrit Cole That Could Change 2020 MLB Landscape

By Paul Shapiro
World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game One
World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game One / Tim Warner/Getty Images

Gerrit Cole will likely be the most-sought-after free-agent pitcher this offseason as he's all but said that he won't be in Houston next season.

However, there are other free-agents-to-be that could alter the landscape and the World Series odds for the 2020 MLB season. With that in mind, here are the four starters that could have the biggest impact if and when they hit free agency.

1. Stephen Strasburg

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Stephen Strasburg is the arguably biggest fish outside of Cole, and he has to opt out of the last four years and $100 million remaining on his current deal before he will be considered a true free agent. Strasburg was a huge part of the Washington Nationals' improbable World Series run, winning the World Series MVP Award, something that likely upped his price this offseason. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft had two wins in two appearances, including 14 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched against the Astros. If Strasburg does test the open market, a West Coast team (he's from San Diego) or the New York Yankees will most definitely be among his potential suitors.

2. Zack Wheeler

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Zack Wheeler is the most likely pitcher on this list to switch teams this offseason. Wheeler’s career numbers are league average – 44-38, 3.77 ERA – but he has the stuff (726 Ks in 749 1/3 innings pitched) that opposing GMs and pitching coaches dream of. If he really wants to stick it to the New York Mets, signing with the cross-town Yankees or his home-town Atlanta Braves are both options for the right-hander.

3. Hyun-Jin Ryu

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Having a career season in a contract year is what professional athletes dream of, and that's exactly what Hyun-Jin Ryu did in 2019 for the Los Angles Dodgers. The 32-year-old lefty went 14-5 with 2.32 ERA, while tallying the most innings he's thrown (182 2/3) since the 2013 season when he racked up 192 as at 26 years old during his first season in the Majors. While he did fall off a bit in the second half (3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP), his career 2.98 ERA should lead to a big payday for Ryu. He could re-sign with the Dodgers or go to the highest bidder.

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