40 Days Until the Deadline: Yanks Watching Wandy

Why can't Hughes put away batters after getting ahead?
Tyler Austin to represent Yankees at Futures Game
(Thearon W. Henderson)

At last year’s trade deadline the Yankees, as we all expected, explored essentially every available pitcher. After failing to significantly upgrade the rotation during the winter, and especially after losing Phil Hughes early in the season, they had little choice. The need for pitching immediately connected them to Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez. With an ownership change inevitable, the Astros were in firesale mode. But even with speculation of a deal to the Yankees lasting right up until 4 p.m. last July 31st, nothing happened. Might 2012 be better timing for the Yankees?

There was a time last year when I really did think Rodriguez would end up with the Yankees. He was slated to become a free agent after the 2011 season, making it a near lock that the Astros would trade him. But in late January then-GM Ed Wade surprised everyone by signing Rodriguez to a three-year, $34 million extension. That did cover 2011, but it also contained a $13 million option for 2014, which 1) could be guaranteed based on performance, and 2) becomes a player option if he’s traded.

With that one move the chances of Rodriguez becoming a Yankee plummeted. Given his performances from 2008 through 2010, the contract itself might have seemed reasonable. It ran through his age-34 season, age-35 if the option vested. And it was for a relatively reasonable salary. But what makes sense for the Astros doesn’t necessarily make sense for other teams in the league. Picking up Rodriguez knowing that his 2014 option will essentially become guaranteed is far less attractive than renting him for a half a season.

Still, the Yankees are looking under every rock for possible upgrades. As we heard yesterday, the Yankees were among a handful of teams present for Rodriguez’s performance against the Royals this week. It doesn’t mean much at this very moment, but if the Yankees do need a starter come July, Rodriguez might be one of the more attractive names available.

Last year the two sides reportedly could not agree on how much money the Astros would absorb in a trade. Sensing the Astros’ desperation to move his contract, the Yankees wanted them to pick up a significant portion. Yet the Astros were not quite that desperate, and ended up holding onto Rodriguez. With a year less of service time to offer, the price on Rodriguez has likely come down from last year. Then again, there is a new owner and front office in place, and their goals might differ from the departing owner and lame duck GM that ran the show last July.

For his part, Rodriguez has pitched well in 2012. His strikeout rate is down enormously, but then so is his walk rate. The net is a 2.77 K/BB ratio that stands a bit above his 2.4 career average. Yes, he does pitch in the NL Central, but that doesn’t mean he’s avoiding the league’s best hitters. In fact, Rodriguez has the 17th highest quality of opponents’ OPS in the league (minimum 50 IP). The Yankee who has faced the toughest opponents this year is CC Sabathia, who ranks 59th. So while Rodriguez’s performances might be undersold because of where he pitches, he’s still facing tougher hitters than any Yankee starter, despite facing the pitcher every ninth batter.

Given the Yankees’ goal of a $189 million payroll for 2014, it’s unlikely they pick up any pitcher who has a contract that will cost them that year. Then again, he does only net $11.5 million in 2014 ($13 mil salary minus $2.5 million buyout). Perhaps he would opt to test the market at age 36, hoping for a two-year deal that will boost his guaranteed earnings. But then again, it’s unlikely the Yankees would bank on that, especially with him moving to the tougher league.

Why can't Hughes put away batters after getting ahead?
Tyler Austin to represent Yankees at Futures Game
  • Knoxvillain

    Pass. Does anyone actually think he would be valuable in the AL East, let alone Yankee Stadium? He would make Vazquez look like Clayton Kershaw.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Being a lefty in Yankee Stadium will help him (as compared to Vazquez). And he has faced some very tough hitters despite being in the NL Central according to the post. However, with the 2014 option become a player option, I’m not sure he’s enough of an upgrade. Depends on the asking price I guess. I liked him as a rental. Not as sure now.

      • Knoxvillain

        I have a feeling he would get destroyed in the AL East. Maybe I’m just wary of NL pitchers.

  • http://riveraveblues austinmac

    Interesting. One correction. According to my high level math skills, 13-2.5=10.5 difference in 2014.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    I don’t see how Wandy is an upgrade over any of the Yankees current 5 starters and I certainly wouldn’t give away any valuable minor league chips to get him.

  • AJavierkei Pavagawnett

    Ugh no Wandy please

  • nsalem

    If he is on the market, I think there are many contending teams with a lot less pitching then we have, that would be willing to offer much more than we would, It would also more than likely end any possibility of obtaining Hamels. It would take a perfect storm of bad luck (probably two starters going down for the season) for Wandy to wind up a Yankee.

  • JohnC

    Absolutely no! Wandy would get killed pitching in the AL East.

  • AC

    Unless its a fire sale…..trying to get under 189 mill he has 2 yrs left on his deal right? Ain’t cheap either. Don’t see a fit with us to be honest.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero


    It is time.

    • The Scheister of Doom

      Earlier in the year, no doubt. I’m not really sure after wasting away in the pen for a month with little to no real innings if he’s even an option at this point. They could make him one if he gets his inning totals back up, but thats a big if. Didn’t he go back to extended ST? They could give a couple of the young starters another 3-5 turns through the rotation and if anyone falls off a cliff, gets injured or a combination of the two; Phelps would be a decent insurance policy. Even though I was beating the Wandy drum below, I still prefer an in-house option, if possible.

  • Jon

    If you look at the scouting report and all the stats on him chances are that he would be better than St.Phil of Hughes. He has better control, has a good curve and change up…I mean if he had a cutter he would be andy petitte.
    I would feel better with CC,kuroka,petitte,nova, and wandy…put hughes in the pen where most 1-pitch pitchers end up.

  • Rich in NJ

    The pitching is fine. If anything needs upgrading, it’s the offense.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    This is par for the course. Every agent and GM wants the Yankees name to be involved in every trade scenario.

    “Desperate Yankees” is a song everyone in baseball knows the lyrics to.

  • FIPster Doofus


  • The Scheister of Doom

    Hughes ERA is 4.73 over the past three years combined, an ERA+ of 91, he’s given up 53 homeruns in 329.1 IP which breaks down to 1.4 homers per 9. This year is pretty much right on par with his career numbers. I agree the past several starts looked very promising but so did several of the rookies in 2010 & 2011 that made the NYY look like the NYM.

    Wandy on the other hand has a 3.49 ERA over the same time span with 481.2 IP, an ERA+ of 111, a lower WHIP, H/9 and HR/9. Would the HR totals go up in YS3? Maybe, but as mentioned earlier in the thread, LHP tend not to have that same issue there. Yes Wandy has given up the same 53 HR over the same span, however thats in 152 MORE innings.

    I’m not saying Wandy is a saving grace but he seems like more of a sure thing than Mr. Hughes.

  • Reggie C.

    Funny how this report surfaces after(?) Phil Hughes’s launchpad of an outing.

    FO is effing with Hughes hoping the young man will find consistent execution on his pitches.

  • Adam

    Hey guys, I follow RAB religiously but I haven’t made an account until just now so this is my first post. I just wanna mention that this blog is awesome and I really enjoy reading the comments section too.

    I’d pass on Wandy. I was discussing this in a forum and here are some of my thoughts…

    His strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) has been declining for a fifth consecutive season (now sitting at a very meager 5.7 per 9 innings), at the same same time his hits allowed per 9 innings (H/9) has been rising.

    Some might point to his 3.29 ERA and think he’s pretty good but his FIP and xFIP amount to 4.16 and 4.03, respectively, which is quite a difference and shows that he has NOT pitched as good as his ERA indicates. And both those stats have been on the rise in recent years. Additionally, his SIERA and xFIP- have risen in every single season for the last 4 years.

    He’s 33 years old, is in obvious decline and, in addition, he’s expensive and will greatly limit our chances of retaining Granderson and Cano who happen to be our biggest offensive weapons. I don’t understand how some people endlessly complain about our offense yet hope for the team to go out and get someone who would be no better than a number 4 starter and whose acquisition will basically cause our offense to deteriorate going into the future.

    Not to mention we’d probably have to dole out a couple of prospects to get him.

    • The Scheister of Doom

      If it was a salary dump from the Astros with Wandy agreeing to waive his 2014 option, would you trade Hughes for Wandy and 6MM of his salary?

      • Adam

        I’d be a lot more interested if it was guaranteed that the option would be waived although I’m not sure if he would represent a significant enough upgrade over Hughes to justify taking on the $6 million. But it’s not my money and, more importantly, this scenario wouldn’t affect the 2014 payroll.

        It helps that he’s a southpaw but I’m leery of his declining numbers and paying $13 million next season for what might amount to a number five starter is a less than ideal use of resources. At least we know that Phil Hughes can miss bats and will likely improve going forward, particularly with his approach against hitters when he’s ahead in the count. And on a sentimental note, I like the idea of holding on to out homegrown talent.

        • Adam


        • The Scheister of Doom

          I like Hughes too, I made a special trip to NY to watch his first start and IMO the hype was real. Just not sustained. Here’s too this being a non issue, all the starters figuring it out and Phelps being the 6th starter, should/when it come to that.

  • The Scheister of Doom

    Weren’t the Yanks scouts in the house during Wandy’s last start, the one before Hughes thought he was pitching in the HRD?

    • AC

      Thy said they were doing there due diligence. I can’t see Yanks taking on his salary and then say they don’t have 10 mil for Swish next year. I’d rather them give ball to Phelps. Phelps just had to be as aggressive as a starter as when he was in pen.

  • Jonathan

    I think well definitely be fine without him especially with only needing 4 starters in the playoffs. I have full confidence that 4 out of our current options will be more than fine. Maybe kuroda or Andy tire or Hughes goes back to terrible but I’m not betting on both and I’m not paying prospects or that money for a guy that’s not getting the k anymore. If we’re not worried about the 2014 payroll sign cole after the season. CC hamels Pineda nova and maybe Hughes Pettitte or kuroda. Maybe Manny.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    The Yankees need to heed the advice of Nancy Reagan on this one.

    • JMK

      I get it.

  • Samuel

    In their own ways each of Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Nova, Hughes are better than Wandy Rodriguez.

    Yankees are idiots for even wasting the money to scout this guy, let alone thinking of trading for him.

    Big PASS.

    If anything, the Yankees can use another corner OF with power.

    BTW, I really don’t like Andruw Jones.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    He may not get crushed at YS3. But you can be certain he’ll get crushed at Fenway, Rogers Vented & Camden Yards.

    Let’s just hope this falls into the category of “best moves are the ones you don’t make.”

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Centre. You know what I meant.

  • Frank

    No to Wandy. The only pitcher I’d want from the NL is Garza. Otherwise, get Denard Span. Offense needs a jolt and Yanks need a younger OFr with speed.

  • Fernando

    No, No, No. A million times NO!