- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since Major League Baseball and the players' association agreed to a new labor deal and MLB followed that up with record-setting television contracts, the clubs -- with money burning a hole in their front-office pockets -- have been aggressive in signing the best talent to long-term deals. Just ask Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander, as well as others who’ve taken less.
One of the ripple effects, however, is that the ranks of the best of the summer trade market have been thinned out. Yes, more starting pitchers will become available as the summer goes along, and some teams will find gems -- remember the Tigers’ aggressive trade for Doug Fister -- but generally, the market for starting pitchers is shaping up to be limited. Here’s how you might rank them as of today:
Feldman has had many peaks and valleys during his career, but right now he is getting excellent results. Opponents are batting .214 against him this season, and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven consecutive outings -- including his 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball that he threw against the Mets on Saturday. His use of his curveball has climbed markedly, to complement his sinker and cutter; there is an effective range of velocity of about 14 miles per hour for him these days. From ESPN Stats & Info: how Scott Feldman won Saturday, in allowing no runs in 6 2/3 innings: