Yankees Hot Stove: A look ahead at the 2014/2015 MLB free agent class for pitchers

Jeff Gross

The Yankees haven't spent much on pitching this off-season. Could they be waiting on a better stocked market next year?

In sharp contrast to their $260 million spending spree on position players this fall, the Yankees have been oddly quiet when it comes to pitching. Outside of re-upping Hiroki Kuroda for a year and bringing on reliever Matt Thornton for two, they've done nothing to address a staff that lost Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to retirement. Reports say they'll be in on Masahiro Tanaka if and when he's posted, but Major League starters like Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez along with bullpen hurlers Grant Balfour and Joe Nathan have managed to eschew the team's radar.

A look at next year's free agent class for pitchers could explain the Yankees' reluctance to commit big dollars this time around. Though trades, injuries and extensions can rearrange things in a hurry, it looks for now like 2014-2015 will be a market ripe with front line pitching talent.

Starters

Player Age (in 2015) 2013 fWAR Contract Notes
Brett Anderson 27 0.3 $12.5 million club option for 2015
Homer Bailey 29 3.7
Josh Beckett 35 -0.1
Chad Billingsley 30 0.0 $14 million club option for 2015
Joe Blanton 34 -0.4 $8 million club option for 2015
Wei-Yin Chen 29 2.0 $4.75 million club option for 2015
Kevin Correia 34 1.3
Johnny Cueto 29 0.6 $10 million club option for 2015
Jorge De La Rosa 34 2.9
Ryan Dempster 38 1.3
Yovani Gallardo 29 1.7 $13 million club option for 2015
J.A. Happ 32 1.2 $6.7 million club option for 2015
Dan Haren 34 1.5 $10 million player option for 2015 with 180 IP in 2014
Roberto Hernandez 34 0.2
Hisashi Iwakuma 34 4.2 $7 million club option for 2015
Josh Johnson 31 0.5
Kyle Kendrick 30 1.7
Clayton Kershaw <--- !!! :-D 27 6.5
Jon Lester 31 4.3
Colby Lewis 35 DNP
Justin Masterson 30 3.4
Brandon McCarthy 31 1.8
Brandon Morrow 30 -0.1 $10 million club option for 2015
Jeff Niemann 32 0.8
Ross Ohlendorf 32 0.3
Felipe Paulino 34 DNP $4 million club option for 2015
Jake Peavy 34 2.4
Wandy Rodriguez 36 0.2
Max Scherzer 30 6.4
James Shields 33 4.5
Carlos Villanueva 31 1.0
Ryan Vogelsong 37 -0.6
Edinson Volquez 30 0.4

Among next year's free agent starters, we see a few team options are likely to be exercised. Iwakuma's staying in Seattle, Gallardo will be picked up, at least to be traded, and Cueto, if he can return to good health will be a Red in 2015. We can hope and dream and beg and plead, but It's too early to think seriously about the Yankees' chances at Kershaw. He's in a good situation in Los Angeles, and it's hard to believe that the Dodgers won't make him baseball's first $30 million per year man before he has the chance to talk to anyone else.

Even behind Kershaw, though, there's still a ton of quality to be had. The American League's reigning Cy Young winner, Scherzer is a Scott Boras client and seems likely to test the market rather than extend with Detroit. Boston's never been particularly good at holding onto their guys once they go free agent, which puts Lester squarely in play. Behind those three there's a very healthy second tier which includes the likes of Shields, Masterson and Bailey. If they don't land Tanaka this year, or even if they do, there will be plenty of good opportunities for the Yankees to part with their money next winter.

Righty Relievers

Player Age (in 2015) 2013 fWAR Contract Notes
Mike Adams 36 -0.4 $6 million club option for 2015
Burke Badenhop 32 0.3
Ronald Belisario 32 0.0
Matt Belisle 32 1.4
Heath Bell 37 0.0
Jared Burton 34 0.9 $3.6 million club option for 2015
Joba Chamberlain 29 -0.6
Jason Frasor 38 0.8
Kyuji Fujikawa 34 0.2 $5.5 million club option for 2015
Luke Gregerson 31 1.0
Jason Grilli 38 1.5
LaTroy Hawkins 42 0.8 $2.25 million club option for 2015
Luke Hochevar 31 1.2
Casey Janssen 33 1.3
Matt Lindstrom 35 1.0
Dustin McGowan 32 0.2 $4 million club option for 2015
Jason Motte 33 0.9
Peter Moylan 36 -0.4
Darren O'Day 32 0.7 $4.25 million club option for 2015
Juan Carlos Oviedo 33 DNP
Joel Peralta 39 0.6 $2.5 million club option for 2015
J.J. Putz 38 0.1
David Robertson 30 1.6
Sergio Romo 32 1.1
Joakim Soria 30 0.2 $7 million club option for 2015
Rafael Soriano 35 0.5 $14 million club option for 2015 vests with 62 GF in 2014
Huston Street 31 -0.1 $7 million club option for 2015
Koji Uehara 40 3.3
Brian Wilson 33 0.4 $9 million club option for 2015
Brad Ziegler 35 0.6

The most important thing to note about 2014-2015's right-handed reliever class is that David Robertson is the second youngest member of it and also the second best according to his 2013 fWAR. The Yankees should be working on re-signing their hopeful future closer right now. While most teams prefer not to spend huge on bullpen arms these days, there will be considerable competition for a pitcher of Robertson's caliber and consistency.

Behind Robertson, Belisle, Gregerson and Hochevar would all be solid setup choices if the Yankees can't lock down the seventh and eighth with internal options this year.

Lefty Relievers

Player Age (in 2015) 2013 fWAR Contract Notes
Craig Breslow 34 0.7 $4 million club option for 2015
Sean Burnett 32 -0.1 $4.5 million club option for 2015 vests with 97 G in 2014
Phil Coke 32 0.1
Tom Gorzelanny 32 0.6
Andrew Miller 30 0.4
Franklin Morales 29 0.1
Joe Thatcher 33 0.2

Quality on next year's LOOGY market is virtually non-existent with Breslow's option a possibility to be exercised if he repeats his 2013 performance. Burnett pitched just 13 games this year and the rest of the group lingers in varying stages of mediocrity. The Yankees have already committed to pay Thornton $3.5 million in 2015 so they're unlikely to shop for another bullpen lefty, especially if Cesar Cabral, Vidal Nuno or Francisco Rondon is able to step up before then.

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