2013 MLB Free Agents: Pitchers Who Will Put Contenders over the Top

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 27:  Anibal Sanchez #19 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park on October 27, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Finding the right pitcher in free agency can be the difference between hoisting a World Series Championship trophy at the end of the season and watching the postseason in October.

Teams like the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants had a wealth of great pitchers, and it served them well, as they both made impressive runs to the World Series.

Whether teams need to add another star to their pitching rotation or are in the market for needed depth in the bullpen, there are plenty of options for teams willing to open the pocketbook. 

Here's a look at three pitchers that could really make the difference for new teams that are trying to get over the top as contenders in 2013.


Anibal Sanchez

Helping the Detroit Tigers get to a World Series may have inflated his value a bit, but Anibal Sanchez is a pitcher that can really help a contender take the next step.

He's a proven playoff performer. As evidenced by his presence with the Tigers, Sanchez has no qualms about pitching well in the postseason. He posted an ERA of 1.77 and went 1-2 in three playoff starts for the Tigers and struck out eight batters per nine innings.

Sanchez may be a bit pricey, he's requesting ace-type money (h/t FoxSports), but he's well worth the price if he can be the last piece for a team making a playoff push. A guy with the kind of playoff experience and youth (he's only 28) is the kind of player that is well worth a big-money investment.


Kyle Lohse

Zach Greinke may be considered the gem of this year's class of free agent pitchers, but Lohse is no slouch himself. 

He may be a little older (34) than Greinke (29), but he more than makes up for it with his production last season. Lohse posted a great record of 16-3 on the season, and actually did with a lower ERA (2.86) than Greinke (3.48).

Lohse doesn't rack up the strikeouts like Greinke, but he's certainly a great option for teams looking to make a push next season. He has the type of style that should allow him to continue pitching effectively well into his 30s. He will make whatever team signs him look very smart for signing him.


Rafael Soriano

Soriano may be headed back to the Yankees despite exercising his opt-out clause, but he could make a huge impact for whatever team does sign him.

The reliever did a great job of stepping up in the absence of Mariano Rivera in the closer role last season. As the Yankees closer, he earned 42 saves on 46 opportunities and did it all with an ERA of 2.26.

Soriano proved that he can be a dominant closer, but it's his versatility that will make him a valuable commodity. He's spent most of his career in the bullpen and can be effective as a setup man or in the closer role.

Whatever team gets Soriano will be bolstering its bullpen in a big way.