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The Myth of Next Year's Pitching Free Agent Class

I've seen this show and it's happening again, but I don't know how to stop it.

When the Twins dangled Johan Santana in 2007, the Yankees declined to spend prospects and money on the lefty. They figured they'd cull from the rich free agent class of 2008. They missed the playoffs in 2008, and were by then so desperate for pitching that they signed AJ Burnett for 5 years and gave CC Sabathia an opt out clause.

There was talk that 2010 would feature "the greatest free agent pitching class ever," Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb and Josh Beckett would be available. A rich team could build a superstar rotation from nothing. That's sort of what happened when the Phillies traded Lee for Halladay and signed Halladay to an extention, then re-signed Lee. Beckett never tested free agency, staying in Boston on his own extension. Webb's arm never bounced back from a string of injuries.

So before we get too excited about waiting for the 2013 free agent class (free agents after the 2012 season), let's remember that there's almost no way that Matt Cain, Jon Danks, Zach Greinke, Cole Hamels, Dan Haren, and Shaun Marcum will hit free agency. If history is a guide, half of them will sign extensions, 1 in 3 will lose effectiveness to age and injury, and the couple pitchers who hit the open market will have so much leverage that they will win too many years and too many perks.

The Yankees need to fix their pitching rotation, either through the pitchers currently available by sale or trade or through their own farm. We can't wait for a solution to come to us.