Well, so much for any Gio Gonzalez to the Yankees trade hopes you may have been holding out – he was dealt to the Nationals earlier today for prospects (A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Derek Norris, and Tom Milone). So for those keeping score at home, here is what the pitching market currently looks like if the Yankees hope to bring in an arm from outside the organization:
There has been no shortage of ink spilled over any of these guys this winter, but we’ll take another look at the remaining options just for good measure.
Edwin Jackson is a workhorse, but an inconsistent one. In the last three seasons he has averaged 210+ innings pitched with an average of 6.4 IP per start. At 28 years old Jackson is just entering his prime, so agent Scott Boras will likely be looking for significant years on any deal Jackson agrees to (reportedly something along the lines of 5 years/$65M). I’m standoffish on Jackson simply because the Yankees already have an expensive, inconsistent starter in the form of A.J. Burnett. Like Burnett, Jackson shows flashes of pure brilliance at times. But he often has trouble finding the strike zone, and as a result he walks a lot of batters (also like Burnett). Maybe it’s just me, but I get a “Javy Vazquez-type” vibe when I think of Jackson in the Bronx. I’m not confident that Jackson will perform consistently wherever he ends up, and given that the Yankees already have a number of question marks in their rotation (outside of CC Sabathia), I think the lack of excitement the Yankees have shown in Jackson is indicative of the fact that they are very unlikely to sign him.
Hiroki Kuroda has been mentioned in connection with the Yankees since the winter began, but always tenuously as it is widely known that he would prefer to pitch on the West Coast. At 36 years old, Kuroda is the oldest pitcher on this list. In 2011 he recorded personal bests in ERA (3.07), innings pitched (202.0), and strikeouts (161). However, he also posted career highs in home runs (24) which could be a problem with the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium. Now, with Kuroda’s asking price reportedly being in the $12M range for a 1-year deal, the Yankees are supposedly balking and claiming that signing Kuroda would simply be too expensive (I call BS on this, but whatever).
Roy Oswalt is also a workhorse, throwing no fewer than 208 innings per year since 2004 (with the exception of 2009 when the threw 181). His innings did drop off this past season when he racked up a 3.69 ERA over 139.0 IP while he battled lower back injuries. There are a few causes for alarm – Oswalt’s 2011 WHIP (1.338) and Hits/9 (9.9) were career highs, while his K/9 (6.0) was at an all-time low. His BB/9 (2.1) and K/BB (2.82) were also close to career worsts. On the plus side, Oswalt’s career worsts are numbers that a lot of pitchers would be more than happy to have in any given season. Oswalt is only looking for a one-year deal, but because of the degenerative discs in his back it is a gamble as to whether any team could actually count on Oswalt for an entire season. However, if the price is right (i.e. low), a deal for Oswalt could be beneficial to both him and the Yankees if they can get a good number of quality starts from him and he is able to prove to other teams that he is reliable for a contract in 2013 and beyond.
All in all, I’m not convinced the Yankees are going to acquire a pitcher this offseason. In fact, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the rotation is going to consist of CC, Ivan Nova, Burnett, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes. It’s not a bad rotation by any means, there are just a lot of question marks that go with it.