Michael Wacha, the top remaining free agent starting pitcher, is seeking a two-year deal, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Wacha is the last remaining starter from MLBTR’s Top 50 list, where he was predicted to take home a two-year, $16MM deal.
So far only the Twins and Orioles have been reported as teams to have shown interest in Wacha, although the Twins’ reported interest came before they acquired Pablo Lopez from the Marlins. The Orioles have seemingly maintained an interest in Wacha throughout the winter, but it doesn’t appear as if talks have ever gotten particularly serious between the two parties, though that can obviously change quickly.
Baltimore does still make a bit of sense as a landing spot for Wacha. They came into the off-season looking for starting pitching, and have so far added only Kyle Gibson on a one-year, $10MM deal in free agency, as well as a recent trade for Oakland’s Cole Irvin, so they could be in the mix for another arm. Speculatively, a return to the Red Sox could make a bit of sense for Wacha, while the Angels could be a fit too if they plan to utilize a six-man rotation this season.
Wacha, 31, is coming off a strong campaign for Boston, where he threw 127 1/3 innings of 3.32 ERA ball over 23 starts. Advanced metrics weren’t particularly encouraged by Wacha’s work, and his previous two seasons of work had amounted to a 5.39 ERA. Nevertheless, it was a promising outing for the veteran right-hander and even some regression could still make him a solid back-of-the-rotation option for a number of teams.
Wacha’s desire for a two-year deal seems reasonable enough, particularly given how well starting pitchers have tended to fare this winter. There are some injury concerns there which may give a few teams some pause, although a two-year pact is hardly an onerous long-term commitment. He’s landed on the injured list four times due to shoulder injuries throughout his career, including a month long absence this past season.
It’s possible a number of teams are more interested in Wacha as a one-year option, in which they can see whether or not his 2022 performance can be repeated without having to commit to an additional year. That sort of deal could interest a number of rebuilding teams as well, as a strong start would turn Wacha into a solid trade deadline option. At 31, Wacha is also young enough that he’d still be in a position to land a multi-year deal next winter were he to have a backup his 2022 numbers with another valuable season in 2023.