While Paul Byrd might not have much to do with the Yankees 2009 plans, Freddy Garcia might. Via MLB Trade Rumors we learn that the veteran righty could sign within the next few days. Not only that, but Jon Heyman says that the Yankees are one of four teams interested. The others include the Mets, the White Sox, and the Rangers. Garcia tossed 15 shaky innings for the Tigers at the end of 2008 after missing most of the past two seasons with shoulder issues.
That’s the red flag right there. A 34-year-old pitcher who missed significant time with a shoulder issue? I’m not so sure I’d take a gamble on that. If it’s a minor league deal with an opt-out if he doesn’t make the big league club, then that’s do-able. But if some team is willing to offer Garcia a major league deal, I have to hope the Yanks back off. There’s no reason to commit money to a guy with this much risk.
Garcia’s career, up until 2007, was filled with 200-inning-plus seasons. He was known as a horse, and that was a major reason the White Sox traded for him in June of 2004. His strikeout rates aren’t great, and he doesn’t have the low walk totals you’d like to see from such a pitcher. Plus, he gives up more than his share of home runs. From the way his stat lines look, a big part of his monster 2001 season was his ability to keep the ball in the park — just 16 homers in 238.2 innings. After surrendering 30 and 31 homers over the next two seasons, Garcia allowed just eight in 2004 before the trade. After the trade, in 103 innings, he gave up 14 homers.
So while he has name value going for him, that’s about all he’s got. He even had to leave winter ball with shoulder soreness. That might just be the cumulative effect of not having pitched much over the past two years. Yet it’s still cause for concern. If the Yankees can get him on a minor league deal, I won’t complain. But if they’re placing him on the 40-man roster, I think there’s reason to take issue with it.