The New York Yankees have made a lot of headlines with their free agent signings this winter. The additions of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka are pricey and have a fair amount of risk involved. They should however improve the 2014 roster significantly. From where I sit, the Yankee roster is far from a finished product. Yes, they have spent a ton of money. But there are still holes and question marks.
With less than a month before spring training starts, it’s time for the Yankee brass to start looking for free agents that can help this team and are cost-effective. The top four spots in the rotation seem to be set. As far as the fifth starter goes, I think most Yankee fans are hoping Michael Pineda is ready to go by the first or second time through the rotation. Pineda coming back on time and being the pitcher he was is Seattle is far from a given. Beyond the former phenom, there isn’t much depth. There are plenty of starters still on the market. The top starters available will probably cost more than the team wants to spend. There are a few guys that are low risk and potentially high reward.
Johan Santana – Santana is going to be 35 is March. There is no question his days of being a dominant, or even above average pitcher are past him. He has battled injuries for the last several years. He also has shown a “bulldog” mentality throughout his time with the Mets. Santana can battle and – when healthy- has pitched well with diminished velocity. He has been linked to his two previous employers throughout the offseason. For a minor league deal, I think Santana is worth taking a flier on.
Jair Jurrjens – Okay, this is an absolute long shot. Jurrjens put together a four-year stretch with Atlanta where he was one of the better pitchers in the National League. He completely fell off the map in 2012, pitching to an ERA of close to seven. Jurrjens made one big league start in 2013 while spending most of the season with the Tigers and Orioles Triple-A affiliates. At 27-years-old, it may be worth looking into a minor league deal as Jurrjens will most likely come cheap. He is less than three years removed from a season in which he pitched to a sub-3 ERA.
Bronson Arroyo – This is a guy that seems to have wanted to pitch in New York for some time. Arroyo is the definition of an innings eater. Since 2005, the only time he failed to reach 200 innings, he pitched 199.0 in 2011. He is a proven veteran and has a history in the American League East. Arroyo would solidify the bottom of the rotation and is almost a lock to make his start every time through. He won’t come as cheap as the others I mentioned, and the biggest obstacle will be his desire for a two year deal.
The Yanks still have some holes to fill, and Brian Cashman has a nice track record over the last few seasons about grabbing players off the scrap heap and getting good results. Hopefully he can pull another rabbit or two out of his hat this year.