There’s some thought throughout the Yankees Empire that the team would do well to add a veteran starter before the July 31 trade deadline. With injuries and question marks after the top two arms, there’s no doubt the Yankees could explore the option. Chien-Ming Wang is out for who knows how long, and he’s no guarantee to perform upon his return. Andy Pettitte has been shelled quite often. Joba Chamberlain has hit a bump or six in the road. Phil Hughes has apparently been relegated to bullpen duty for the rest of the season. If none of these conditions improve, then the Yanks could certainly benefit from another proven starter.
Problem is, they don’t have much time to decide. Only a few weeks remain between now and the deadline, and deals normally don’t happen overnight (you’ll remember with the Bobby Abreu trade that the two sides talked all month, with the Phillies demanding Phil Hughes, but they eventually settled just before the deadline). For now they’ll likely go with Sergio Mitre, but there’s no reason to believe that he’ll provide any real relief. He could pull a Small/Chacon, but that’s as long a shot as it was with those two. Most likely, he’ll be a better mop-up man than Brett Tomko and little more.
On August 1, I don’t think the Yankees rotation will look any different than it does right now. I don’t think they’ll add a starter, not because they don’t think they need one, but because there are so few available who represent a surefire upgrade. Guys like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will command a hefty package of prospects, and both will be free agents after the 2010 season. While either would recement the Yankees rotation, it’s doubtful the front office will pony up the steep price.
There are other names out there, though their availabilities are uncertain. Still, it’s interesting to ponder what direction the Yankees might take. Moshe Mandel at The Yankee Universe (the blog, not the fan club) runs down a few additional names. There are a few interesting ones, including Aaron Harang, Gil Meche, and Jarrod Washburn.
Normally I’d advocate Harang here, but it appears his woes from last season have carried over. His strikeouts are still down and his hits are up, even from last season. He makes $11 million this year, $12.5 million next, and has a $12.75 million option for 2011 with a $2 million buyout. Will the Yankees be willing to add this much payroll? Perhaps, but not for Harang, who just doesn’t seem to be the pitcher he was two years ago. He would, though, add to the Yankees collection of pretty freaking big starters — he stands six feet, seven inches tall.
Gil Meche battled injuries throughout his tenure in Seattle, but after signing a five-year, $55 million deal he’s led the league in games started in each season — including this one. Things haven’t been perfect in this campaign. His walks are up significantly and his ERA is up at 4.50. He’s also a bit of an injury concern at this point. He battled lower back pain in Spring Training, and he recently left his start against the Red Sox with back spasms. “A couple hours after I pitch, it’s real stiff,” Meche said, perhaps implying that this is not an isolated incident. Still, Meche has a high upside. He’s owed $24 million combined in 2010 and 2011, and the Royals seem to be going nowhere fast. It’s still doubtful the Yankees take on his salary.
As for the other names:
Bannister? The Yanks would be better off with what they have in-house.
Washburn? Half-year rental, though he could come cheap. He’s having a good season, but he was also having a good season at this point last year, and that turned around pretty quickly.
Bedard? Too much, plus there’s the whole narrative of him being too shy to play in a big market.
Arroyo? We like balls to stay in the park, please.
Doug Davis? His 3.41 ERA is nice, but it’s the NL West. Plus, he walks way too many guys.
Looking at all the names above, I just don’t think there’s a deal out there which the Yankees would be willing to make. They’d have to add significant payroll for players who aren’t our likely won’t be worth their salaries. Plus, they’ll have to part with prospects, and good ones at that. While the Yankees might do well to explore the addition of a veteran starter, it’s easier said than done. Would you want to add any of these guys?