During the 2010 offseason, Brian Cashman aimed for low-risk, high-reward signings after failing to sign Cliff Lee to a gargantuan contract. Two of those signings, a 37-year-old Bartolo Colon and 34-year-old Freddy Garcia, were able to give New York incredible stability in their rotation behind CC Sabathia.
Dishing out a total of $2.4 million to the two aging veterans ($900,000 for Colon, $1.5 million for Garcia), Brian Cashman and co. were thrilled to receive 311 innings of 5.1 WAR baseball in return.
Here we sit on December 28th and the New York Yankees have yet to make a major upgrade to any position on the diamond. In fact, the only two notable signings they've had are: 1) Ensuring that stud southpaw CC Sabathia remains in fabled pinstripes until his late 30s and 2) Freddy Garcia would return for another shot at a world championship. While the first signing was a no-brainer, Cashman's idea to squeeze every last drop of competitive fire out of Garcia was well received.
This has put New York in a favorable position to take a stance against unruly spending during the remainder of the offseason and display something we haven't seen in quite a while: Restraint.
Having successfully avoided C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish, the Yankees are now looking at fewer and fewer options on the starting pitching market. As I've already prefaced, New York shouldn't feel the need to sign a pitcher to a contract they don't see as reasonable. Behind Sabathia, there's still a complete rotation with A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia.
But what about finding another diamond in the rough this offseason? Is it too late to pull off another miracle signing that could pay tremendous dividends?
Here's a look at the remaining free agent starting pitchers on the market, copied directly from mlbtraderumors.com:
Wei-Yin Chen (26)
Bartolo Colon (39)
Aaron Cook (33)
Kyle Davies (28)
Doug Davis (36)
Zach Duke (29)
Jeff Francis (30)
Armando Galarraga (30)
Jon Garland (32)
Rich Harden (30)
Livan Hernandez (37)
Hisashi Iwakuma (31)
Edwin Jackson (28) - Type B, offered arbitration
Hiroki Kuroda (37) - Type B, no arbitration offer
Rodrigo Lopez (36)
Paul Maholm (30)
Kevin Millwood (37)
Sergio Mitre (31)
Ross Ohlendorf (29)
Roy Oswalt (34) - Type A, no arbitration offer
Brad Penny (34)
Joel Pineiro (33)
Jo-Jo Reyes (27)
Joe Saunders (31)
Mitch Talbot (28)
Javier Vazquez (35)
Tim Wakefield (45)
Brandon Webb (33)
Chris Young (33)
Amongst the remaining free agent pitchers, I spy two names that could be considered for a low-risk, high-reward signing.
The first is Brandon Webb. He'd be nearly dirt cheap, having thrown zero pitches over the past two seasons thanks to two rotator cuff surgeries that have kept him sidelined. He's proven to be an extremely crafty pitcher with a deceptive sinker likened to Roy Halladay and Chien-Ming Wang's best stuff. The main question would obviously surround that precious right arm.
The second is a bit more plausible. Rich Harden, a man who has certainly had his fair share of injuries, is a currently sitting on the market. Last season with Oakland, Harden tossed 82.2 innings in 15 starts. While he was hit quite frequently (87 allowed), his strikeout rate of 9.9 per nine innings was remarkably high, coupled with a solid 3.4 BB/9 rate. A disturbingly high HR/FB rate of 15.6% last season is without question something to take into consideration. He made $1.5 million in 2011 and I can't imagine he'll earn much more in 2012. Even with a dip in his velocity since his prime, he's got the stuff to be a decent option for New York.
Of course, this is just a conversation starter. Any diamonds in the rough that you can spot, Pinstripe Alley?