Remaining one-year-deal starters (or what’s left of them)


(Photo by J. Meric/Getty)

A few weeks ago Tim Dierkes of MLBTR noted that there were still a handful of one-year stopgap starting pitchers on the market. Between the relative lack of activity on the Yankees’ part along with the team standing to benefit from added rotation depth (and not wanting to overpay for said depth), myself and others have spent a lot of time during the last calendar year trying to identify sensible low-cost options for the team. Of course, as our own Mike recently astutely noted:

At this point, if the Yankees aren’t going to bring in someone clearly better than Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, they’re just wasting their time. The A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, and David Phelps group is more than capable of filling those fourth and fifth spots.”

I’m very interested to see what Phelps (who I’ll be taking an in-depth look at on Monday), Noesi, and Warren might be able to do given the opportunity; however, this being the offseason and all I wanted to take one more pass through the unsigned names to see whether any of ‘em may make a modicum of sense. I began drafting this post two days ago; before I could even get through a couple of paragraphs a handful of names on my initial list quickly came off the board, including Aaron Cook (signed by the Red Sox to a minor-league deal), Paul Maholm (signed by the Cubs to a one-year, $4.25 million deal with a club option) and Wei-Yin Chen (somewhat inexplicably signed by the Orioles to a three-year deal that appears to have evaluated him on what he did prior to 2011).

Anyway, by my count here are the remaining guys presumably in line for one-year or minor-league contacts:

Bartolo Colon
Jeff Francis
Jon Garland
Rich Harden
Hiroki Kuroda
Roy Oswalt
Brad Penny
Joel Pineiro
Joe Saunders
Kyle Davies
Zach Duke
Livan Hernandez
Kevin Millwood
Ross Ohlendorf
Tim Wakefield
Chris Young

And here’s a link to a customized leaderboard I created on Fangraphs showing how they performed in 2011. There isn’t anything all that surprising in here; if you’re a believer in Bartolo Colon having another 2011 in him he’s pretty clearly the most appealing option of the bunch, having been the most valuable per fWAR, posting the third-best K/9, 5th-best BB/9 and 3rd-best FIP and xFIP.

Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda of course also look appealing, but as we know the Yankees remain uninterested unless either righty’s asking price drops substantially. The only other remotely appealing player in my book on this list is Rich Harden, who I covered extensively back in November, but his propensity to give up the long ball combined with legitimate health concerns are apparently outweighing the mouth-watering strikeout rate and continuing to keep suitors away.

For depth purposes, I still wouldn’t mind seeing the Yanks take a flier on Harden — who’s barely merited a mention on MLBTR this winter –  if his price ends up being near the $1.5M deal he signed with Oakland last season, although at this point he doesn’t pass the “better than Nova and Garcia” test, nor is he an obvious upgrade over old friend Bartolo. Ultimately, if the Yankees do decide to pass on a Colon reunion and asking prices for others remain unfavorable, it would appear that their best move would indeed be to utilize the rotation depth they have at AAA for the 2012 season.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    He wouldn’t be an upgrade over anything, but I’d be up for muddying the depth waters further with an Ohlendorf reunion.

    I think we saw the best from Bartolo. Oswalt, Kuroda, or just let the kids play.

    • Freddy's Mom says:

      Nice handle!

      • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

        Thanks. Thought about changing it to the “Robinson Tilapia” line I used in a thread a couple of weeks back, as that still even cracks me up, but I’m not ready to leave it yet.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      I agree we probably saw the best from Colon. On the right deal , however (would he accept another minor league deal?), I see value in bringing him back. See what he’s got in ST and if there’s something left, ride him hard for as long as he’s got it. Then evaluate the trade marked and use the AAA kids as necessary.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      I’d love to see Ohlendorf brought in for a look as a pen arm.

  2. Owen G says:

    I think Harden and Colon are exceptions to the “better than Nova/Garcia” rule because there is a tiny hope that for a small price you could win the lottery. The other guys (other than the higher priced Oswalt and Kuroda) are league average filler.

  3. Freddy's Mom says:

    I like the idea of re-signing Colon a whole lot. It’s chump change, he’s a real gamer, and he doesn’t even have to be a regular starter by my thinking, but could be a long reliever and occasional starter, though I promptly confess I am not knowledgeable enough on how rotations and bullpens are structured to be sure that makes any sense outside my skull.

    I wonder how likely it is he’ll be back? At a shade under a million it seems a good chance, but what if he gets offers of more from other clubs? Do we think the Yankees would go to, say, a mill five to have him back? Or am I on crack?

  4. RayVT says:

    What about Padilla? Did he get signed somewhere or is he still available.?

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      He’s out taking people’s heads out as we speak. I’d rather forfeit every fifth game.

    • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

      I think someone did a post where Padilla and Tex hate each other, and it would take some talking to Tex to smooth things over and get him on board with the move, an effort that wasn’t worth what Padilla would bring.

  5. Flying Choppers says:

    I’m not sure why AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes seem “more than capable” of filling the 4 and 5 slots. Burnett threw to a 86 ERA+ last year after an 82 ERA+ in 2010. That’s not even a 5 on a championship caliber team. As for Hughes, he started only 14 games to a 77 ERA+. That’s not even a 6 or 7th starter on a championship caliber team.

    There’s plenty of need for another starter or two. Here’s hoping they sign Oswalt and Colon (and trade Burnett while moving Hughes to the pen).

    • Flying Choppers says:

      Seriously, look at the Rangers or Rays 1-5. I’m not even sure that Nova and Garcia can be considered sure things. If anything the Yankee rotation is:

      1+: CC Sabathia
      4: Ivan Nova
      5: Freddy Garcia
      6: AJ Burnett
      7: Phil Hughes

      I’d rather give Phelps, Warren, Noesi, and even Banuelos, a shot at those two slots as they all could have some upside with experience. But I understand why the Yankees won’t – so go out and sign the two best one-year options out there – Oswalt and Colon. Both will be no worse than league average. The Cardinals showed last year what you can do with good enough pitching. AJ Burnett has no upside at this point. Phil Hughes’ upside is as a reliever. Neither is close to good enough.

    • CG says:

      2008 Phillies won the WS with a 80 era+ 4th starter and a 79 era+ 5th starter.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Burnett threw to a 86 ERA+ last year after an 82 ERA+ in 2010. That’s not even a 5 on a championship caliber team.

      Jake Westbrook, #5 starter on 2011 WS Champion St. Louis Cardinals, ERA+ 78.

  6. Monteroisdinero says:

    Bart was great until the hamstring. Who knows how much this may have bothered him once he came back? I’d give him a ST look and put a clause in his contract that he doesn’t have to cover 1B! Quick fiber muscle pulls are a bitch when you are an overweight 39 year old pitcher.

    Tex can handle it.

  7. CJ says:

    How did madson sign for 1 year/8.5? What a steal? That’s what Soriano should have signed for last year. If only the yanks could ever get a bargain.

  8. Dax J. says:

    How about Joel Piñeiro? Is he done for? I think he’s worthy of consideration.

    • Larry Koestler says:

      I’d be pretty wary of Pineiro, whose K/9 fell below four last season and GB% fell below 50%. Some of his inflated ERA can probably be ascribed to the highest BABIP of his career, but that’s not exactly comforting with such an extreme pitch-to-contact type.

      Aside from inexplicably being able to handle the Yankee lineup, I’m not really sure what Pineiro’s good for, and it’s difficult to envision him faring all that well at YS3.

      • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

        He is another example of what happens to pitchers that have been “fixed” by Dave Duncan. One year after leaving Duncan he returned to his previous form. Jackson was improving under Duncan and I’m afraid he will regress also. It seems as if Duncan teaches and hypnotizes these men into good production. It’s just my opinion.

  9. Captain says:

    the long man out of the bullpen role still isn’t filled right? i don’t know if any of the guys on that list would be willing to do that but Bartolo would be great in that role to take over for Noesi.

    • Freddy's Mom says:

      Agreed, plus like I said above Bart can start! So you got somebody who can jump in if Phil needs a spa day or Freddy gets a hangnail.

  10. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    Except for Colon, Oswalt and Kuroda, those on the list seem like batting practice pitchers to me. Kuroda and Oswalt are not worth the price. Colon may or may not be able to do the long man job. I’d rather have one of the youngsters either start or be long man.

  11. OldYanksFan says:

    I say sign Colon for $1m, and give him $0.5m incentives for every 10 lbs under last years weight he averages for the season. There’s no reason to believe he can’t post a 3.5 ERA. His arm is for real, and it has had a 3 year rest. You can’t fake the way he threw last year.

    Even if he only goes 140 IP, he’s still the best bet.

  12. JohnC says:

    Colon wore down last year cause he was rehabbing and pitching all Winter before ST even started, then right into the season. Guy hadn’t pitched in 2-3 years. Of course he was gonna tire out eventually. Now he has had time to rest his arm so he should be rejuvenated. Would definitely like to see him brought back if they don’t get Kuroda

  13. dkidd says:

    i’ve fallen in love with the idea of throwing the kids into the rotation. we’ll get to pretend we’re following a gritty small market team!

  14. Jesse says:

    If the Yanks were willing to look at guys like Garcia, Colon, Kevin Milwood, and even Mark Prior, couldn’t an argument for a zero-risk spring training look at Scott Kazmir be made? The guy isn’t even 28, so there’s plenty of time for him to figure out how to pitch effectively again.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      I think the statute of limitations on “thinking Scott Kazmir can rebound” still has a ways to go before expiring. I’d absolutely take a shot.

  15. The Manchine says:

    Any chance Edwin would be interested in a 1/$15 or 3/$36ish deal? Madson/Boras just signed a 1yr deal. If Jackson lights it up, he could be due for a big deal at 31. Maybe a 5yr deal with opt out after 2 instead??

    I really think(hope) Edwin could retain the lessons he got from Dave Duncan. He’s the only young-ish SP I can recall that Duncan has “fixed” (Pinero going from “sucks” to league avg at best doesn’t count IMO.)Pair that with Rothchild’s teaching plus being able to pick the mind’s of CC & Mo and I think he can turn himself into a true 1A.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      I’d take Jackson at 1/15, or even 2/30, for sure. Would not do the 5-year with opt-out you’re suggesting since, well, Rafael Soriano says hello.

  16. Jimmy says:

    Tim Wakefield 3/35.

    Randy Levine call your office.

  17. mscott says:

    How about a minor league deal for Brandon Webb?

  18. Darren says:

    What’s Scott Kamenickie up to?

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