While Yankee fans do not often find themselves much concerned with the affairs of the Arizona Diamondbacks, this off-season may see a prized D-back pitcher hit free agency. Brandon Webb is Arizona’s equivalent to Chien-Ming Wang. A sinkerball specialist, who, by the way, like Wang, Webb has missed nearly all of 2009 with shoulder problems. His contract features an $8.5 million team option that may push Webb into a shallow free agent pitching pool.
Over the last week, news from the desert has focused around this bonus. The Arizona Front Office wants to restructure the option to be incentive-based. After all, there is no guarantee that Webb will rebound after throwing just four innings at the Major League level this year (and all on Opening Day). But Webb will have none of it. He says he’ll be healthy for 2010 and is more than willing to test the free agent waters.
Earlier today, Chris at iYankees pointed the way to a rumor linking Webb with the Yanks, among other teams. In a video post, Buster Olney reports that the Yankees could offer Webb a one-year deal come this off-season. The usual suspects — Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, and White Sox — also figure to keep an eye on Webb. That ought to keep Webb’s value up.
Olney’s report is contingent upon the D-backs’ desire to save $6.5 million. If they don’t pick up Webb’s option, the buy-out is $2 million, and sources in Arizona anticipate Webb returning next year. It is, however, nice to dream.
For his career, Brandon Webb has an ERA+ of 142 and a K/9 IP of 7.3. Before coming down with a shoulder injury this year, he had never missed a start. He throws a heavy and hard sinker similar to Wang’s, but unlike the Yanks’ injured pitcher, Webb has better command of his secondary pitches. He uses those pitches to get the strike outs that Wang doesn’t.
Heading into next year, the Yankees will have CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett atop their rotation. Joba Chamberlain, despite the posturing, will be there, and Andy Pettitte will probably return. The last spot then will go to some mix of Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kennedy or Chien-Ming Wang. If Webb is a free agent, adding him to the mix would give the Yanks some stellar depth. As fun as it is to ponder, I wouldn’t count on it though.