Free-agent arms offer risk, reward

Plenty of recently great pitchers will be available to highest bidder this winter

Updated: August 31, 2013, 1:36 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider

Roy HalladayHoward Smith/USA TODAY SportsAre you really prepared to bet against Roy Halladay returning to form in 2014?

With all the new television money flowing into the game, MLB teams have ramped up pre-free-agent contract extensions, keeping the best players away from the open market. When the offseason rolls around, you're going to hear a lot of talk about what a lousy group of players are available, especially if Robinson Cano ends up staying with the Yankees.

However, there's one area where this free agent class is actually quite interesting: broken-but-perhaps-fixable formerly great pitchers.

Among the hurlers who will hit the open market this year: Roy Halladay (2010 NL Cy Young), Tim Lincecum (2008, '09 NL Cy Young), Dan Haren (three-time All-Star, finished seventh in 2011 NL Cy Young vote) and Josh Johnson (two-time All-Star, finished fifth in 2010 NL Cy Young vote). Just a couple of years ago, this quartet would have made up the best rotation in baseball, as they combined to throw 749 innings and post a 2.67 ERA in 2011.