The Yankees might be in the market for pitching, and C.J. Wilson might be the best starting pitcher on the free agent market, but that doesn’t mean the two are a natural fit. Earlier today Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports relayed some information from major league execs. The general feeling seems to be that Wilson will get “at least five years” with an option, though one executive speculated that he’ll end up with a six-year deal. “It just takes one club,” the exec said. While that one team might have been the Yankees in years past, the possibility seems much less likely this off-season.
In the past the Yankees have heavily pursued starting pitching when they had a need. In 2008 they laid out a record-breaking contract for CC Sabathia before another team made an offer, and then outbid the Braves for A.J. Burnett. Last off-season they reluctantly added a seventh-year option to their offer for Cliff Lee. The Yankees again seek that elusive No. 2 to complement CC Sabathia atop the rotation, but the pursuit feels different this time. It doesn’t seem as though the Yankees will outbid the league for the top free agent starter, as they have in years past.
Earlier this month Mike wrote up the pros and cons of Wilson. While every free agent pitcher has a few things going against him, Wilson’s list of cons seems a bit deep for a pitcher about to sign a five- or six-year contract. The Yankees might go to four years, and maybe add a fifth option. But with a few alternatives on the free agent market (Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle), a possibility on the international market (Yu Darvish), and even more possibilities on the trade market, the Yankees will likely refrain from an all-out pursuit of Wilson. If another team comes in with an over-the-top offer, and Morosi’s sources indicate that such an offer is on the horizon, the Yankees will likely just let him walk and move on to the next target.
Adding C.J. Wilson to the 2012 rotation would surely shore up the pitching staff. Despite the factors working against him he’s still managed to have the 15th best ERA and the 22nd best FIP, while pitching the 20th most innings, in the last two years. While those numbers are certainly good, they’re not top-10 quality. The Yankees will likely balk at paying such a price for a top-20 arm. They have options elsewhere, and some up-and-coming pitchers in the minor league system, who could fit into the 2012 rotation. Wilson would be nice, but he’s just not worth the premium contract that he’s reportedly going to get.