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Do the Yankees really have to re-sign Phil Hughes?

There has to be someone better than him, right?


Come 2014, the Yankees' stable of starting pitchers will consist of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Brett Marshall. There is no way a team like the New York Yankees are going to go into the season with four starters 27 and under. They could fill the roster with Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, but neither are locks to return. Phil Hughes will be a free agent, and even though he's been a disappointment in pinstripes, he could be just what the Yankees need. He's young and shouldn't be too expensive. That being said, maybe New York has had enough of his failures and could use a change. There are plenty of free agents that could replace Hughes and maybe even be an upgrade in the rotation.

Hughes has a career 99 ERA+ in his seven years of the majors and is coming off a 99 ERA+ 2012 that was his second best year as a starter. He's certainly been a disappointment if you watch his games and he's been extremely injury prone. There has to be someone better than him.

Scott Feldman (30) has a 94 ERA+, but had a down year in 2012 (89). His last above average season as a starter dates all the way back to 2009 (114). He's not going to be better than Hughes, but his $6M contract with the Cubs this year is the high end of what he would cost on the open market. He would be the cheaper option.

Gavin Floyd (31) has an ERA+ of an even 100 and he's been consistently mediocre; he had a 113 ERA+ from 2008-2010, but since then he's had a 99 ERA+ for the last two seasons. Floyd has pitched over 180 innings in four of the last five seasons, so he has been durable. He would be coming off a $9.5M 2013 season, so he'll be looking at a pay cut, but also might end up with a two or three year dea if he has a strong season.

Matt Garza (30) might be the free agent with the most value, even though he would command a multi-million, multi-year deal. He's had an ERA+ over 100 since 2007 and had his best year in 2009 while in the AL East. He's also been able to provide 200 innings, having done it twice and has also pitched at least 180 innings in each season between 2008-2011.

Jason Hammel (31) would not have been an option this time last year, but his ridiculous 2012 put him on the map in his first year with the Orioles. He has a 95 ERA+ for his career, but last year he had a 123 ERA+. He has had trouble with his knee, but between 2009-2011 he pitched over 170 innings every year. If 2012 Jason Hammel is the true Jason Hammel, maybe he can be an option for the Yankees. His chances for a multi-year deal will depend on how good and how healthy he is in 2013.

Dan Haren (33) was one of the best pitchers in the league before last season when his production fell off a cliff. He has a 115 ERA+ for his career, but last year (87) it was the lowest of his career since his rookie season. He signed a $13M one year deal with the Nationals this offseason, but that is where the difficulty with him lies. If Haren has a bounce back season he could get a multi-year contract. If he has a season like 2012 again he's not really going to be worth looking into at any price.

Tim Hudson (38) could be the latest productive veteran signing if either Pettitte or Kuroda don't return. He might be nearing 40, but he's still been productive. He has a 126 ERA+ for his career, but more importantly he's had a 123 ERA+ since 2010. He's also very durable, having pitched 200+ innings as recently as 2011, so he has shown very little reason to worry yet. Hudson has been making $9M a season, so something similar to what Pettitte and Kuroda make now could be expected.

Josh Johnson (30) is somewhat of an enigma. He was one of the best pitchers in the league, but constant injuries have slowed him down. He has a career ERA+ of 130, even though he has only managed to have a total of three seasons where he had over 30 starts throughout his eight year career. One such year, last year, was by far his worst season and he's off to a terrible start this year as well. Someone will give him a big time contract and probably regret it. A one year deal would be perfect, but that is not going to happen, so the risk will have to be worth it.

Colby Lewis (34) has a 96 ERA+ over the length of his career, but he's only been good since 2010. In the last three years he has put up a 118 ERA+ and had a 133 ERA+ season in 2012, though he only managed 105 innings pitched. Right now he is on the Disabled List with a non-Tommy John related elbow injury, so he would at least be someone to watch this season. He has pitched 200 innings in 2010 and 2011, but that could be the reason for his injury, so his durability might be an issue. Lewis would be a relatively cheap option due to his injury concerns and age.

Tim Lincecum (30) would have been the pitcher to throw all the money at just a year ago, but his 2012 was a complete disaster. He might have a 120 ERA+ for his career, but in 2012 he only managed a 68. That sounds scary and if he puts another season like that up, he's going to be placed in the washed up category. If he can recover to be who he once was he can still get his money and salvage his career, but if not he might be looking for scraps. It would be an interesting investment to sign a floundering Lincecum to a lucrative one-year contract in hopes that he might still be able to figure it out, but the Yankees would need to have a good plan B just in case.

Paul Maholm (32) is a solid under the radar starting pitcher. He has a 98 ERA+, but also pitched to a 115 ERA+ in 68.2 innings after being traded to the Braves in 2012. He is durable, evident from the fact that he has pitched at least 175 innings in every season since 2006, except one. Right now he's signed to a $6.5M deal, so something in the same region is not out of the question. As a one to two year stop gap he would be even cheaper than Pettitte or Kuroda.

The alternatives might be older, and some of them could even be more expensive, but a better pitcher is still a better pitcher. Whether or not any of them will be better options than Phil Hughes will have to be answered after 2013 works itself out and we see what kind of season Hughes has.

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