According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are looking for a veteran starter they can stash in Triple-A as rotation depth. They have Chase Whitley and Bryan Mitchell as call-up options, though Rosenthal says they don’t want to rush top pitching prospect Luis Severino. Basically they want someone like Scott Baker, who signed with the Dodgers after being released by New York last week.
Rosenthal mentioned veteran southpaw Wandy Rodriguez as a possibility, though he could wind up with a team that offers a greater big league opportunity. Rodriguez, 36, had an excellent Spring Training with the Braves, pitching to a 3.13 ERA with 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 23 innings against mostly MLB caliber competition. Atlanta released Wandy last week for whatever reason.
The list of available free agent starters right now is really uninspiring. Jhoulys Chacin, Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Kevin Slowey are the best of the available guys, and Chacin (Rockies), Maholm (Reds), and Slowey (Phillies) were recently released by teams with major pitching issues. That, folks, is called a red flag. At least Correia (Mariners) had the dignity of being cut by a team with a deep staff.
Of those four names, Chacin is the most interesting because he’s still reasonably young (27) and was good as recently as 2013, when he had a 3.47 ERA (3.47 FIP!) in 197.1 innings for Colorado. But, as I wrote two weeks ago, Chacin’s stuff clearly isn’t what it was two years ago, probably because his shoulder still isn’t healthy. That said, at this point he’s not going to get a 25-man roster spot from anyone, so a minor league deal makes sense. It’s a no risk roll of the dice.
Both Trevor Cahill and Erasmo Ramirez were traded last week, though those guys aren’t Triple-A depth. They stepped right into the Braves and Rays rotations, respectively. Several Triple-A starters (Matt Buschmann, Bradin Hagins, Rudy Owens, etc.) have been traded for cash in recent days, and hey, Nick Piecoro says Vidal Nuno is available. He wouldn’t be bad Triple-A depth. Who knows what Arizona wants in return though. Either way, that’s the kind of pitcher on the market right now.
The Yankees are looking for pitching depth because they’re always looking for pitching depth. Whitley and Mitchell figure to be joined in the Triple-A Scranton rotation by Kyle Davies and Matt Tracy, with someone like Zach Nuding, Caleb Cotham, Jaron Long, or Joel De La Cruz holding down the fifth spot. Jose DePaula will be another rotation candidate once he returns from his spring shoulder injury. So yeah, it’s easy to see why they’d want to add someone with MLB experience to this group.