[The Yankees] should give strong consideration to signing free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets as their fifth starter and righty Juan Cruz as a setup reliever.
Both Sheets and Cruz are Type A free agents who were offered salary arbitration, but they would cost the Yankees only fourth- and fifth-round draft picks. The Yankees already have signed three higher-ranking free agents -- Mark Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett.
Sheets, while a physical risk, could be the Yankees' answer to Brad Penny and John Smoltz, both of whom signed with the Red Sox for relatively low base salaries with the chance to earn significantly more through incentives.
Cruz, on the other hand, makes more sense for the Yankees than he does for any other club. Teams are reluctant to forfeit a first-round pick for a setup reliever. But an aggressive spender such as the Yankees, because of a flaw in the compensation system, gives up a lower-round draft pick with each Type A free agent that it signs.
There aren't many years to consider signing more than three Type-A's, but this is one of them.
Cruz walks too many (about 5/9 ip), but has filthy stuff, striking out more than 12/9 over the last two years.
Sheets is a relative no-brainer (at the right price, of course). Maybe $6-8 million for one year (plus incentives).
- Mo is great, but how much is a great reliever really worth?