Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 10/24/13

Welcome to TOC's offseason primers! We haven't officially reached the offseason yet, but it's never too early to look at the best players on the free agent market. Today, we take a look at the best free agent right-handed starting pitchers available. Tim Lincecum took the sizzle out of this market by agreeing to a two-year, $35 million contract extension with the Giants. He may not have been the top free agent right-hander available, but may have been drawn heavy interest on the open market. There are still plenty of arms that will appeal to teams looking for starting pitching, however. While there might not be an ace among the bunch, some very good No. 2 or 3 starters are available. And for those willing to take a chance, a major bargain or two could yield major dividends for the right club next season.  1. Ubaldo Jimenez. Surprised? But with most of the top free agent pitchers 35 years old or older, Jimenez stands out as a younger alternative. He'll turn 30 in January, shortly before spring training begins. However, it's not just about age. Jimenez finally emerged as the pitcher the Indians hoped they were getting when he was acquired at the 2011 trade deadline, the one who looked like the best pitcher in MLB for the first half of 2010. He was outstanding down the stretch, as the Tribe made a run at a wild-card playoff spot. During the second half of the season, he compiled a 1.82 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 84 innings. In six September starts, he was 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA and a strikeout rate of 11.1 per nine innings.  Jimenez has a $8 million club option on his contract, but can void that since he was traded. After the way he ended the season, it's highly likely that he'll do so and pursue a long-term, megabucks contract on the open market.  2. A.J. Burnett. Burnett has said he'll re-sign with the Pirates next season or retire. However, plenty of MLB teams will surely try to change the 36-year-old's mind on that stance. The cynical view, of course, is that this is a negotiating stance. But Burnett has made a ton of money (more than $120 million, according to Baseball-Reference) and has two World Series rings, so maybe he's serious. Burnett may not have been quite as impressive as he was in 2012, but he had the best strikeout rate of his career at 9.8 batters per nine innings and nearly threw 200 innings. Additionally, his rate of 7.8 hits allowed per nine frames was his lowest since 2004. The man is pitching far too well to retire.  3. Ricky Nolasco. Could Nolasco, 30, end up getting the richest contract among this year's free agent pitchers? It's possible, depending on whether or not Jimenez gives the Indians a hometown discount. Nolasco also has the good fortune of playing — and pitching well — for the megabucks Dodgers. He went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA after joining the Dodgers, increasing his strikeout rate and reducing his hits allowed per nine innings. Nolasco may not be a No. 1 starter (though some team could make the mistake of paying him like one), but he can provide 200 innings and possibly 200 strikeouts. Will he be next year's Anibal Sanchez?  4. Hiroki Kuroda. Maybe Kuroda, 38, should be lower on this list because he's unlikely to sign with any other team besides the Yankees. Kuroda has often spoken about finishing his career in his native Japan, so if the Yanks can't convince him to stay with another one-year contract, he might finally follow through on those ambitions. But with Andy Pettitte retiring and Phil Hughes' possible departure, the Yankees really need him. Kuroda was the team's best starter last season, compiling a 3.31 ERA in 201.1 innings. His walk rate of 1.9 batters per nine frames was the second best of his career.  5. Bartolo Colon. The 40-year-old continues to defy logic and age, posting one of the best seasons of his 16-year MLB career. Perhaps Colon should be viewed with some suspicion, since he tested positive for PEDs last year and served a 50-game suspension that went into the first week of this season. But maybe all that time off actually gave him an opportunity to further hone his game. Colon made 30 starts for the A's, finishing with an 18-6 record and 2.65 ERA. He benefited from a strong Oakland defense, however, which any interested teams will have to consider. But a contender could do much worse than offering Colon a one-year contract.   6. Matt Garza. Going into the 2013 season, Garza may have been viewed as the best potential free agent pitcher available. He was certainly sought after at the trade deadline. But his performance with the Rangers has to have hurt his earning power. Garza was supposed to help Texas surge toward an AL West title or wild-card bid, but actually hurt their postseason chances instead. In 13 starts, he compiled a 4-5 record and 4.38 ERA. With a declining strikeout rate and his hits allowed per nine innings increasing, Garza is trending badly for someone seeking a rich free agent contract. But he's younger than most of the pitchers on this list and that might count for something. The right ballpark and coaching staff may feel there's plenty of material to work with. Just don't make the mistake of thinking he's a No. 1 starter. 7. Roy Halladay. It feels like Halladay should be higher on this list, but we just don't know how he's recovered from shoulder surgery in May. Doctors cleaned out bone spurs and repaired a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff in the 36-year-old's right shoulder. Halladay powered through his recovery and rehab to pitch in late August, eventually making six starts for the Phillies. But that last one didn't go so well — or long. If Halladay is healthy, he could be a hell of a bargain for a team, especially one that signs him for the back end of its rotation. 8. Tim Hudson. Hudson, 38, would presumably like to re-sign with the Braves. But Atlanta has enough on-hand to fill out its starting rotation and could let him walk. Hudson could provide a veteran presence for a young staff, however. That could obviously apply with other teams as well. He finished with an 8-7 record and 3.97 ERA, limited to 21 starts after suffering a broken ankle in late July. He was pitching well before the injury, going 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his final four appearances. As with other pitchers on this list, Hudson could be a nice one-year bargain for a contender seeking a mid-rotation starter.  9. Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has made it known he wants a multi-year contract (preferably for three years), which probably means he won't return to the Reds. Considering he's led the league in home runs allowed in two of the past three seasons, Arroyo might want to get away from Great American Ball Park anyway. A bigger, more pitcher-friendly park and a strong defense behind him could make Arroyo a nice pick-up. He's not going to strike many batters out, but will throw a lot of innings. Many teams will find that valuable.  10. Ervin Santana. Santana's 9-10 record this season might not look terribly impressive, but his career-best 3.24 ERA was second only to James Shields among Royals starters and helped Kansas City to the best team ERA in the American League. The Royals would like to bring him back and figure to make him a one-year qualifying offer that could limit his marketability in free agency, much as what happened with Kyle Lohse last winter. Is Santana a 200-strikeout pitcher? No, his 2008 season appears to have been a fluke in that regard. But he can be a 200-inning workhorse at the back of a rotation, which should interest several clubs.

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