Major League Baseball
2024 MLB free agents: Who are the best non-Shohei Ohtani pitchers available?
Major League Baseball

2024 MLB free agents: Who are the best non-Shohei Ohtani pitchers available?

Updated Jan. 18, 2023 1:59 p.m. ET

Though next winter will undoubtedly be all about the free agency of Shohei Ohtani, it’s important to remember that only one team will ultimately sign him. Congratulations in advance to whichever that lucky team is, but the 29 others will need to look elsewhere if they intend to improve their rosters via free agency after this season.

On Tuesday, we looked into the uncommonly shallow group of free-agent hitters scheduled to hit the market alongside Ohtani, particularly following the recent extension of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. But for those curious about the overall health of next winter’s free-agent market, there's good news: Ohtani will not be the only premier pitcher available. There’s a whole lot more to dream on in this group relative to the hitters, so buckle up. 

Here are the best starting pitchers hitting the free-agent market after the 2023 season. All players are listed alongside their age-season for next year — that is, how old they'll be on June 30, 2024.



Nola has combined durability and dominance for half a decade and just delivered another masterful campaign, albeit one where he appeared to run out of gas in his last few postseason starts. Another 200 innings of excellence could realistically make him the next $200 million pitcher. 

Urías, who famously debuted at 19, will be one of the youngest premier free-agent starting pitchers ever, which will make him highly attractive to a wide selection of teams. He’s been as good as it gets, run-prevention-wise, over the last few seasons, even if he doesn’t strike out as many batters as you might want from a No. 1 starter. 

Sometimes Aces

Catch these two on the right day and you’d be hard-pressed to identify many more dominant arms in the sport. Snell is coming off his better season entering his platform year, but he's a couple years older and his strike-throwing issues continue to be maddening even as the pure stuff has remained elite. Giolito wasn’t nearly as bad as his 4.90 ERA suggested, but was one of the many victims of the bad-vibe parade that was the 2022 White Sox. A return to his 2021 form could make him a serious chunk of change next winter.  

Upside With Uncertainty

The breakout of Nestor Cortes and recent signing of Carlos Rodón may have moved him down the Yankees' rotation depth chart, but let’s not lose sight of just how good Severino has been when healthy. Don’t be shocked if he goes out and carves for 30 starts and we’re talking about him being much closer to the Nola/Urías tier.  

We saw how valuable Mahle and Montas were at last year’s trade deadline, so it stands to reason they could cash in if they can stay healthy — Montas is expected to miss at least the first month of 2023 with shoulder inflammation — and peak at the right time entering free agency.

Syndergaard is the furthest removed from top-notch results on the mound, but I’ll happily bet on the Dodgers to maximize Thor’s abilities.  

Reliable Veterans

This foursome is far less sexy than the predominantly hard-throwing names above, but each has demonstrated mid-rotation upside that plenty of contenders would be ecstatic to add to their rotations. The fact that these guys are this far down the list should underscore how deep this pitching class has the potential to be. 

Aging Aces 

On talent, Darvish belongs way higher on this list, but it’s difficult to predict just how pitchers will age into their late 30s especially before even knowing what he does this year. It’s very possible he posts another fantastic season and signs for a lesser version of what Max Scherzer got from the Mets, but any semblance of regression on the field or trouble with injury could yield a very different level of contract for Darvish. You could say the same for basically any of the pitchers on this list, but there’s less margin for error among older pitchers.  

Ditto for Kershaw everything said about Darvish, with the caveat that the southpaw has encountered more trouble with injuries recently. Perhaps even more importantly, he appears destined to be perpetually choosing between the Dodgers and his hometown Rangers, which doesn’t exactly make him a normal free agent. He’s still amazing, to be clear, but these factors make him difficult to line up with the other available arms.

Injury Wild Cards

Flaherty appeared ticketed for bona fide acehood after his breakout 2019, but he’s struggled to stay on the mound ever since. Maeda, Ryu and Paxton are all at varying stages of working back from Tommy John surgery and have looked like some of the best pitchers in the league at different points in their careers. It’s extremely difficult to project how they'll perform upon return to full strength, but the upside must be accounted for and considered as a possibility. 


We must also mention this group of pitchers who could choose to join the free-agent fray should they perform to a certain degree in 2023. It’s unlikely all five of these guys end up making that decision, but any number of them excelling in 2023 and choosing to test the market again would strengthen the depth of this starting pitching class even further.

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He has covered baseball for his entire adult life, most notably for, DAZN and The Ringer. He's a Mariners fan living in the Eastern Time Zone, which means he loves a good 10 p.m. first pitch. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

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