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MLB free agents highlighted by Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields

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There is an abundance of top-flight starting pitching available on the open market right ... about ... now.

It's getting cold outside, but that means MLB free agency is about to heat up.
It's getting cold outside, but that means MLB free agency is about to heat up.
Leon Halip

The World Series might be over, but there is still plenty of baseball excitement remaining now that free agency officially began as of 9 a.m. ET Thursday.

Plenty of front of the rotation starters are available for the right price this offseason, including 2013 American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off of a superb three-year run in which he has posted a 3.24 ERA/127 ERA+ while striking out 10.5 batters per nine innings. Scherzer reportedly turned down a six-year, $144 million extension offer from the Tigers earlier this year.

Jon Lester didn't get a chance to build upon his impressive postseason resume because of a poor outing in the AL Wild Card play-in game, but that shouldn't hurt his stock on the open market. Lester pitched well for the Athletics after being acquired in a midseason trade from the Red Sox, posting a 2.35 ERA with 71 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 76⅔ innings. Overall, 2014 was an impressive bounce-back year for the 30-year-old lefty, who put up a career-low walk rate and his highest strikeout rate since 2010.

Speaking of not helping his stock in the postseason, James Shields likely still has a bitter taste in his mouth after surrendering 15 runs in 19 innings for the Royals in October, but the 32-year-old righty should still command decent money this offseason. Shields has eclipsed 227 innings in each of the last three seasons and owns a 3.17 ERA/124 ERA+ with 8.0 SO/9 and 2.3 BB/9 during that time.

Here's a list of newly minted free agents by position:

Catchers

John Buck, Angels
Ryan Doumit, Braves
Gerald Laird, Braves
Russell Martin, Pirates
Wil Nieves, Phillies
A.J. Pierzynski, Cardinals
Humbero Quintero, Mariners
David Ross, Red Sox
Geovany Soto, Athletics

First Basemen

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Corey Hart, Mariners
Lyle Overbay, Brewers
Mark Reynolds, Brewers

Second Basemen

Mark Ellis, Cardinals
Rafael Furcal, Marlins
Kelly Johnson, Orioles
Ramon Santiago, Reds

Shortstops

Clint Barmes, Pirates
Asdrubal Cabrera, Nationals
Stephen Drew, Yankees
Jed Lowrie, Athletics
John McDonald, Angels
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers

Third Basemen

Alberto Callaspo, Athletics
Jack Hannahan, Reds
Chase Headley, Yankees
Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Outfielders

Norichika Aoki, Royals
Emilio Bonifacio, Braves
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
Endy Chavez, Mariners
Nelson Cruz, Orioles
Chris Denorfia, Mariners
Jonny Gomes, Athletics
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Scott Hairston, Nationals
Torii Hunter, Tigers
Reed Johnson, Marlins
Ryan Ludwick, Reds
Mike Morse, Giants
Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
Nate Schierholtz, Nationals
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
Josh Willingham, Royals
Chris Young, Yankees
Delmon Young, Orioles

Designated Hitters

Jason Giambi, Indians
Raul Ibanez, Royals
Victor Martinez, Tigers
Kendrys Morales, Mariners

Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker, Rangers
Chris Capuano, Yankees
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
Kevin Correia, Dodgers
Gavin Floyd, Braves
Jason Hammel, Athletics
Aaron Harang, Braves
Roberto Hernandez, Dodgers
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
Jon Lester, Athletics
Colby Lewis, Rangers
Francisco Liriano, Pirates
Paul Maholm, Dodgers
Justin Masterson, Cardinals
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mets
Brandon McCarthy, Yankees
Jake Peavy, Giants
Ervin Santana, Braves
Johan Santana, Orioles
Joe Saunders, Orioles
Max Scherzer, Tigers
James Shields, Royals
Carlos Villanueva, Cubs
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
Edinson Volquez, Pirates
Chris Young, Mariners

Right-handed relievers

Matt Albers, Astros
Burke Badenhop, Red Sox
Matt Belisle, Rockies
Jared Burton, Twins
Joba Chamberlain, Tigers
Jesse Crain, Astros
Jason Frasor, Royals
Luke Gregerson, Athletics
Kevin Gregg, Marlins
Jason Grilli, Angels
Joel Hanrahan, Tigers
Luke Hochevar, Royals
Casey Janssen, Blue Jays
Jim Johnson, Tigers
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Nick Masset, Rockies
Jason Motte, Cardinals
Pat Neshek, Cardinals
Juan Carlos Oviedo
Chris Perez, Dodgers
David Robertson, Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Sergio Romo, Giants
Tim Stauffer, Padres
Koji Uehara, Red Sox
Jose Veras, Astros
Jamey Wright, Dodgers

Left-handed relievers

Joe Beimel, Mariners
Phil Coke, Tigers
Neal Cotts, Rangers
Scott Downs, Royals
Zach Duke, Brewers
Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers
Rich Hill, Yankees
Andrew Miller, Orioles
Franklin Morales, Rockies
Joe Thatcher, Angels