Update (10:32 p.m.): Freddy Garcia may get his wish after all. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the right-hander has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Yankees. The 35-year-old will get an invite to Spring Training and a chance to win a job in the starting rotation, though he’ll have to compete with Bartolo Colon.
If he makes the team, Garcia will earn a $1.5M base salary plus another $3.6M in possible incentives. He’ll have to make 30 starts to max out the bonuses, something he hasn’t done since Jaret Wright made 27 starts for the Yanks. If he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training, Garcia can opt out of his deal by March 29th.
Garcia, now three years removed from shoulder surgery, managed to throw 157 innings for the White Sox last year after three seasons of no more than 58 IP. He wasn’t all that good though, pitching to a 4.64 ERA (4.77 FIP, 4.59 xFIP) with 5.10 K/9 and 40.7% ground balls in 2010. Although he walked just 2.29 batters per nine innings unintentionally, Garcia managed to surrender one homer for just under every seven innings pitched. It’s been a long time since he was a 200 innings a year horse for the Mariners, but all the Yankees are asking him to do is be better than Sergio Mitre. That doesn’t seem hard, but you never know.
Always a sinker-slider-changeup guy, Garcia threw the pitches in almost equal parts last year, though his fastball averaged just 87.6 mph. He’ll also mix in the occasionally curveball and cutter, but they’re just show-me pitches. At this point of his career, Garcia can’t survive by trusting his stuff, he’s got to mix his pitches well and locate. His margin for error is small, and the Yankees know this.
I’ve been pretty critical of a potential Garcia signing this winter, though that’s because I expected a Major League contract. A minor league deal is no risk, but I wouldn’t exactly call it high reward.
Additional reporting and commentary by Mike Axisa.