I’ve done this before and it was pretty popular and the Yankees are once again in the market for starting pitching so I’ve identified 10 starting pitchers that are on the free agent market that they could be interested in signing.
Yu Darvish(Rangers won exclusive negotiating rights)- He seems to be the favorite of some. He has both high end potential and won’t cost the Yankees a draft pick as he is not a Type-A free agent. The posting fee will be excessive, but it won’t count toward their luxury tax. What’s to lose for the Yankees if it will only cost them money? C.J. Wilson– (SIGNED with Angels for 5-years and $77.5 M)Seems to be the consensus as the best American free agent starter. However there are some flags here as he has very little experience as a starting pitcher and has had the benefit of one of the best defenses in baseball in that short time. He wouldn’t be a bad bet though if he wasn’t expected to cost upwards of $100 million.
- Roy Oswalt – The biggest question here seems to be health. He was limited to 139 innings this season due to a back injury that had him talking about retirement. The next biggest issue, how will he adjust to pitching in the AL for the first time in his career? Biggest pro is probably that it won’t take a huge multi-year deal to land him.
- Edwin Jackson – The Yankees kicked the tires on trading for him at the deadline, but decided that he wasn’t worth the prospects. Now they can have this Type-B free agent for just cash. Still just 28-years-old, he has become one of the more consistent pitchers in baseball averaging 200+ innings in each of the last four years with a 4.06 ERA.
Mark Buehrle(SIGNED with Marlins, 4-years, $58 mil) – In the past has seemed dead set on only pitching in Chicago or St. Louis so there might be reason to think he would not sign with the Yankees. However, he is a model of consistency and control. He has thrown at least 200 innings in 11 seasons in a row with a BB/9 of just 2.0. He’s also a solid fielder. If he willing to sign at reasonable dollars he could be a nice pickup for somebody.
- Hiroki Kuroda – He was a target of the Yankees at the trade deadline, but with a full no trade clause he refused to leave Los Angeles. Can the Yankees even convince him to come to the Bronx? Hard to say, but one a one-year deal he could be a solid pick up to solidify the middle of the rotation.
Erik Bedard(SIGNED with Pirates, 1-year, $4.5 mil) – Bedard had a decent season after missing all of 2010. He still dealt with a few injuries, but nothing major. When he is healthy, he is still very effective. He had a 3.62 ERA in 2011 with a 9.0 K/9. Doesn’t seem like a fit with the Yankees, but he could be the best of the risk/reward pitchers this offseason.
- Rich Harden – Still strikeouts a ton, but still can’t stay healthy. If he can’t find a guaranteed contract elsewhere, it seems likely that the Yankees would be interested in giving him a non-guaranteed deal. His 4.79 ERA over the past three seasons does seem alarming though, but that could be due to injuries and inconsistent playing time. He’ll be 30 at the end of the month, maybe with age he will eventually turn the page with the injuries.
- Paul Maholm – Still just 29, the former first round pick is intriguing. Although I don’t exactly see a fit as his stuff might get knocked around in the AL East and the Yankees seem to have enough young arms capable of what he can do. Still, I won’t rule him out.
Chien-Ming Wang(SIGNED with Nationals for 1-year, $4 mil)- This ex-Yankee fan favorite actually had a decent run at the end of the season putting up a 3.71 ERA over his final nine starts. Still, it doesn’t seem likely at all that the Yankees would be interested as his stuff still hasn’t returned to his pre-2008 injury days. It could be that he just needs more time to get his velocity back up though and he seems to have improved his slider. Not a realistic option at this point though.
Not to leave out the two of the Yankees own free agents:
- Freddy Garcia (RE-SIGNED with Yankees, 1-year, $4 mil) – Garcia’s return to the Yankees seems likely after he put together a solid 2011 campaign. The Yankees seemed to like his professionalism and he seems to have liked being a Yankee so he should be back. Only thing that could come in the way is money. They might want him back, but probably not with a huge raise.
- Bartolo Colon – He could still come back next year as well, but it seems much more unlikely. His stuff clearly wasn’t what it was in the second half of the season and I think the Yankees knew they got lucky with him. How much further are they going to push that luck? Still, if he’s willing to come to camp on a non-guaranteed deal it seems hard to deny him.
Obviously the Yankees are not going to sign most of these pitchers, heck, they might not even sign any of them. But if they do, whom would you like to see them sign? Or is there somebody I missed that you would like to see the Yankees go after?