Below is a list of the 7 best pitchers who might be on the free agent market and the most I would offer them. I might offer slightly more if the market is crazy and the pickings dwindle down. And I would begin the negotiations by offering less.
The first WAR numbers are fangraphs and the second is baseball refference. The numbers are the averages over the last 3 seasons with the numbers prorated "up" to 200 innings. Brandon McCarthy being the only pitcher that the change dramatically effected. The final numbers are the contracts I would offer.
Zach Greinke 29.0 WAR 5.0-2.7----5-86
Anibal Sanchez 28.8 WAR 4.0-3.0----5-68
Jake Peavy 31.4 WAR 4.4-3.1----3-45
Edwin Jackson 29.1 WAR 3.5-2.1----4-42
Shaun Marcum 30.10 WAR 2.9-3.0----2-20
Dan Haren 32.0 WAR 4.2-2.1----1-13
Hiroki Kuroda 37.7 WAR 3.4-3.8----1-13
Brandon McCarthy 29.3 WAR 4.4-3.5----1-10
Zach Greinke---Based on Zach Greinke's social anxiety disorder and the Boston atmosphere, Greinke would be the last pitcher on the list I would expect to sign. I would be open to it if he was however. Greinke's production the last 3 years has been over rated a bit. I personally would not go above 18 million a year. Unless his price comes down, I would not even try to sign him.
Anibal Sanchez---Sanchez is the youngest pitcher on the list. Also one of the most consistent and healthiest pitchers on the list. He did have a tear in his labrum, but that was a while back. He has shown no signs of problems in the last three seasons however, with consistent velocity. All the other pitchers have shown more drops in velocity then Sanchez. I have been impressed with his toughness in the playoffs aswell. From a long term starter idea, Sanchez would be my focus. Because of Sanchez's age, excellence, consistency, stable velocity, and seeming health the last 3 years, I would be willing to go 5 years, although I would try to do it in 4.
Jake Peavy---Peavy is the only other pitcher I would focus on for a long term deal. Similarly to Sanchez, Peavy had major health issues in the past. However, there have been few signs in the last 3 years. Because of age I would try to only go 3 years.
Edwin Jackson---I am concerned about Jackson and his health. In his free agent year, he showed both a solid drop in his velocity as well as his performance. Unless I found out a reasonable explanation, Edwin Jackson would be low on my priority list.
Shaun Marcum---Marcum had major elbow issues last year. His performance has faded the last 3 seasons. A big time soft tosser, Marcum is last on my priority list.
Dan Haren---If Haren is a freeagent, it means nobody was willing to pay atleast 12 million to Haren. My guess is you might have to trade for his contract. I would give the Angels a non prospect and have the Angels eat 2-3 million of his contract. This is my number 1 prefference in the pitching market. Nobody will offer him a long term contract over 12 million a year.
Make no mistake, Haren is a gamble. He has some health concerns and if the Angels are dumping him, its likely they don't like what they see. There was a major drop in velocity this season. However, before last season, Haren had SEVEN straight seasons with atleast 216 innings pitched. Thats unbelievable. With a fangraphs WAR of atleast 4 all seven seasons. HORSE! As for his health, what I like is that his last 8 games were very good stat wise, including a 41-5 K/W rate. And the gamble only cost 13 million of cash this year.
Hiroki Kuroda---Kuroda might fit the 1 year rental to fit the bridge strategy. Because of Kuroda's age however, I would not offer a deal over 1 season and would not make any offer if the deal costs the Red Sox a pick.
Brandon McCarthy---Another 1 year gamble with huge upside. when on the field, Brandon McCarthy has been very good. Also he is very young and the cheapest option and safest gamble. And 10 million might keep the favorite[Oakland] out of the picture.
My list of pitchers in order of preffernce based on all factors....
*I would need pretty good medical reports to offer either more then 1 year.
I believe that this is an ok market for pitching and that 1 of these players should be signed. I don't think 2 pitchers are needed, although if it was two of the question marks like Haren and McCarthy, it would be all right.