Yankees Trade Target: Wandy Rodriguez

With a less than stellar free agent market and several gaping holes in the rotation, it appears likely that the Yankees will fill at least one of these holes through trade.  While It is always fun to dream about acquiring pitchers at the top of the spectrum- Felix Hernandez would fit well with CC Sabathia, wouldn’t he- trades like that do not happen often if at all, so we must look at more realistic options.

One such option is Houston Astros Ace Wandy Rodriguez.  The 32 year old has been in the majors since 2005.  He can be classified as somewhat of a late bloomer as he was signed as an international free agent nearly six years earlier.  The Yankees have been tied to the lefty several times over the past few seasons, but an agreement has never been made.  The Astros, as a team ensconced at the bottom of the standings, have looked to unload Wandy and his contract, but their prospect demands were too high for the Yankees’ liking.

Throughout his first three seasons in the majors, Wandy struggled, putting up an overall ERA of 5.17 from 2005-2007 with an astronomical 1.45 WHIP.  At the age of 28, it seemed he was destined for a career of mediocrity.  At the time, his numbers resembled those of a fringe starter at best.

But in his age 29, it was as if a wand was shaken and Rodriguez truly found himself as a pitcher.  Over the past four seasons, he has been remarkably consistent.  His ERA from 2008-2011 stands at a solid 3.40.  Similar to free agent favorite Mark Buerhle, his ERA has not fluctuated much during this time; its trough was 3.02 in 2009 and its peak 3.60 in 2010.  When looking for a good mid-rotation starter, this type of stability is an enviable trait.

Wandy Rodriguez does not fall into the prototypical soft-tossing lefty mold, nor does he make it into the flame-throwing strikeout machine league.  His fastball will sit in the upper 80’s and touch 92, and he throws a two-seamer at similar speeds.  He will, however, rack up strikouts (8.2 K/9 over the four year span) with a good slow curve and a changeup.  While he is stronger against left-handed batters, this changeup allows him to remain effective against righties as well.

While Wandy’s ERA remained steady, his peripherals dropped in 2011.  His 4.15 FIP was his highest since 2007, though his xFIP remained solid at 3.72.  Take a look at his career graph.

Fueling this increased FIP were Wandy’s lowest K/9 and highest BB/9 and HR/9 rates in the last four years.  As there was no real change in the velocity or movement in his pitches, this should not be a big worry.  Most likely, it was a one year statistical blip.  In fact, it would not even be worth mentioning were he not on the wrong side of age-30.

While not an innings-eater in the CC Sabathia/Mark Buerhle mold, Rodriguez is a good bet for more than 180 innings in a season.  Since 2008, he has thrown 137.1, 205.2, 195 and 191 innings respectively.  Somewhat concerning is the elbow injury that landed him on the 15-day DL back in May.

Of course, all these stats were compiled in the NL Central where Wandy was able to face a light hitting 8-hole guy and a pitcher several times per game.  By no means would he come in and put up the same type of numbers in the AL East.  But there is no reason to doubt his ability to put up more than 180 innings of a mid-upper 3 ERA, which would prove exceedingly valuable for any team.

Perhaps the greatest factor in this potential trade would be Wandy’s contract, which has him signed for $23 million through 2013, with a $13 million team option for 2014 with a $2.5 million buyout.  While this contract is by no means a steal, it is more than reasonable considering the market for a starting pitcher.  If Rodriguez were to hit the open market today, he would undoubtedly get more years and a higher average salary.

In the pasts, talks between the Yankees and Astros broke down because of the Astros’ unwillingness to eat much of the salary.  It is a problem that is inevitable when trading for high profile players.  The acquiring team is essentially paying for that player twice; once in prospects and once in money.

The Yankees seemed willing to include higher level prospects such as Austin Romine or one of their AAA pitchers not named Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances if the Astros would pick up a portion of the salary.  Or if the Astros could not afford to do so, the Yankees would probably have agreed to take the whole contract if the quality of the prospects involved was lessened.  Houston on the other hand wanted the high quality prospects and for the Yankees to take on the entire salary.

It is likely that this will be the same deal going forward.  The Yankees will dangle some nice names, but Houston will ask for too much.  Maybe if Wandy’s contract proves to be too much of a burden for a team destined again for last place, Houston’s asking price will come down.  However, consistent, left-handed starters come few and far between, and one can bet that there will be quite some competition for the veteran’s services.

In the end, any team has to give up something to get something of value.  Perhaps the greatest example is the Curtis Granderson trade.  The Yankees got one of the best center fielders in the game, but in the process, had to give up Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson.  Wandy Rodriguez will be no different, and if he can be had for one of David Phelps, Hector Noesi, or Adam Warren plus a lower end prospect, the Yankees would be foolish not to seriously consider.

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15 Responses to Yankees Trade Target: Wandy Rodriguez

  1. theboogiedown says:

    I'm tired of Yanks bringing in older guys, it's gonna(has) catch/caught up with us. BTW-what ever happened about the talk of Houston coming over to the American league? Would be good for baseball, bit of a Texas rivalry etc.

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    I'd prefer Buehrle. They're both 33 next year, but Buehrle has the better career ERA and has done this in the AL. The reason to go with Rodriguez is cost, $36 mil over the next 3 years (with the option) versus $45 mil for Buehrle. Also they'd keep the draft choice they'd lose to sign Buehrle. If the Astros won't pay part of his salary, then I'd want them to take back Phil Hughes (who I just don't view as a starter), Nunez and a low level prospect. But I like the idea of not adding another 5 years+ contract.

  3. Cyril Morley says:

    Why trade for Wandy Rodriquez, we already have pitcher in Manny Banuelos better than him. We are suck with long contact and older player and I,m tired. Mark Buehrle, CJ Wison, Roy Oswalt are not a fit. Still look at Francisco Liriano, Arodys Champam, Wei-Ying Chen, Yu Darvish, Edwin Jackson, Rich Harden, Scott Kazmir and Mike Gonzalez all pitchers. With the signing of outfeilder Yoenis Cespedes our trade can open up

    • Alex Taffet says:

      Wandy's contract is up after 2013 so he would not be blocking any of the young guys. He would be a 2 or 3 year acquisition most probably and provide some quality innings behind CC and perhaps Darvish. No pitcher on the free agent market besides perhaps Roy Oswalt will be had at a shorter term contract.

    • Gonzalo says:

      Mike Gonzalez is just a reliever, Arodys Champan is just developing, Harden and Kazmir only in similar contracts to Colon and Garcia they're injury risks, Jackson has been in 7 teams they take a look and get rid of him, also 4.46ERA.
      Darvish is the only one who makes sense.
      Probably Liriano could work but you never know with him, good talent but a lot of problems, I wouldn't trade any good prospect for him. And like I said before, if they can bring Kazmir like they did it with Garcia and Colon I really would like to see him during the spring training, we thought he would be an ace but he is still just 27 and lefty.

  4. Marc Perez says:

    Mike Gonzalez?? He's a closer.

  5. Allen Saunders says:

    Wandy Rodriguez stas are not good enough in NL Central!!! Will you imagine his mediocre stuff in the AL east? Why even bother? If you don't get a Gio Gonzalez via trade or sign for the likes of Buehrle or Wilson just stick with your young propsects.

    Wandy is a lefty AJ. I rather suufer with the growing pains of the youth rather than the aches and pains of an elder…

  6. FrankiApples says:

    As A Long Time Yank Fan!, If I Was Ca$hman I Would Look To Get AnOther Starter,Not Wilson
    Or Wandy. Maybe Resign Colon Plus A DH; A Back Up Catcher To [ Resign Curtis Martin]. I Also
    Wouldn't Had Resigedn Swister ,[ He's Like O'Neil W/ The Bleacher Fans]. I Guess He's Was
    The Only Decent RF On The Market For His Option [$10.2Mill].
    My Line Up Will B Gardner,Jeter [ Til He Retires in '13],Texieria,Cano,Rodrigquez,Swisher,Pena,
    Montero,Granderson. [Subject To Change].
    It's TimeThe Yanks[ The Brothers/ Levin, Ca$hman], Put Some Of Their $$ In2 The Not So Lrg, FM Players,Pool [ Bsides The Phils, Red Sux,Angels],Fter Their ReSigning Of Sabathia,Again.
    We'll [ The Other Y Fans] See What Hapens In the Next Coming Weeks.
    Now That Papalbon Is In The East, NL That Is!. See What I'm Talkin Bout, Now Thorme Is Back W/ Them!. Last Yr, The Yanks Should've Gotten Him As A Stronger DH!.Fter The WhiteSux/ Krazy
    Guillien Released Him.

  7. Susan says:

    I wouldn't mind Wandy at all as I'm always open to lefty starters. I still want Buerhle though. No thanks to Darvish or Chapman. And Franki Apples, why in God's name would you want Ramiro Pena as a starter in 2013? He's garbage in every sense of the word. I think we can do just a little better than Pena with all our $$$.

  8. Susan says:

    I wasn't sure if I had ever made my anti Pena bias clear. LOL

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