As I write this (8:40 PM on Wednesday night) it looks very unlikely that the Yankees are going to get Yu Darvish. We’ve also heard relatively little on the trade front except that the prices of two Yankee target–John Danks and Gio Gonzalez–are exorbitant. The White Sox wanted TWO of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances for Danks (lol) and the A’s apparently asked the Marlins for Mike Stanton in return for Gonzalez. Until those trade prices come down, the Yankees are going to have to look to the free agent market to patch up their rotation.
Yes, at this point, it should be clear that they need to do that. I like the Freddy Garcia signing, but will lightning strike twice? Granted, with Garcia, lightning doesn’t need to strike twice. If he can throw 150+ innings while racking up a low to mid 4′s ERA, I’ll be happy. The back end of the rotation really isn’t the Yankees’ problem, is it? They have Garcia to eat some innings and Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett do have potential. The front of the rotation presents a bit of a problem. CC Sabathia is obviously awesome, but the step down from him to the rest of the rotation isn’t great. Ivan Nova could improve off of last year, but I’m still not sold on it. So what can the Yankees do? Well, the options have certainly dwindled. C.J. Wilson is an Angel and Mark Buehrle is a Marlin. The non-tender lists offer nothing of use (please don’t say Joe Saunders. I will ban you from commenting if you do. I’m just kidding. But seriously, don’t bring him up.). The only two options that are remotely desirable, then, are Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson.
The markets for both pitchers have been damn near silent and that’s got to help the Yankees. There are pros and cons to each pitcher. Oswalt is old and has a bad back; he’s also never pitched in the American League. Jackson has semi-frequent homer and fly ball issues. However, he’s improved his walk rate over the last few years and has had back to back years of better-than-average FIP and xFIP marks. Jackson has also pitched at least 180 innings each of the last four seasons. Oswalt offers a bit of upside even if he is old. His performance has been solid every year and 2011 was the first year he pitched under 180 innings since his rookie year.
Of course, all of this depends on cost and length of contract. Oswalt said earlier this month that he’s looking for a three year deal. He won’t get that from the Yankees. We’ve heard almost nothing on Jackson. For Oswalt, I might be willing to discuss a two year deal, maybe 2/$24M, but I’d prefer to overpay on a one year deal. For Jackson, I think the max is 3/36, though I’d aim for 3/33, maybe with a club option for a fourth year.
In both Oswalt and Jackson, there is enough good to be interested. But, perhaps, there are enough dobuts to pass. While I won’t go home kicking and screaming if the Yankees don’t sign either one of these guys (and I won’t necessarily be skipping home delightedly if they do sign either one), I’m fearing that adding anyone but these guys (or Darvish or a trade option) will not do nearly enough to significantly improve the Yankee rotation.
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