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Yankees Contracts: Baseball's funny money - pitchers

The Yankees pitching staff has been the key to their mild success so far and, for the most part, has been cost effective.

Jim McIsaac

In the first part of this midseason look at the Yankees on-field finances, the groundwork for how this stuff works was laid out. This part will focus on the pitching staff, including the six pitchers who have the bulk of the starts this year as well as the five most frequently used relievers.

All data as of 7/14/13 (95 games into season), salary data (courtesy of cot's baseball contracts) is rounded to the nearest $100,000. Value data is courtesy of fangraphs.

Starting pitcher - Hiroki Kuroda

Yankees $ paid so far: $8,800,000

Value in $ so far: $11,300,000

Yankees $ saved: $2,500,000

Over the past two seasons Brian Cashman has fortified the pitching rotation with the under the radar signing of Kuroda. It's worked out for both parties as he has been paid handsomely, but is still providing value above and beyond his rich contract. With the money saved the Yankees could throw a party so everybody can forget that Kei Igawa ever happened.

Starting pitcher - CC Sabathia

Yankees $ paid so far: $13,500,000

Value in $ so far: $9,200,000

Yankees $ wasted: -$4,300,000

The big fella is still producing at a high level, just not as high as the lofty standard he has set for himself. The velocity drop has been alarming this year, but there is still plenty of time for him to adjust to the power reduction and continue to be an elite pitcher into his late 30's (he wouldn't be the first). Otherwise, it will just be another case of the Yankees paying top dollar based on passed merits for a player very much in decline. With the $4 million+ the Yankees are losing they could have opened up a brown bear sanctuary at the Bronx Zoo in CC's honor. Oh well.

Starting pitcher - Andy Pettitte

Yankees $ paid so far: $7,000,000

Value in $ so far: $8,500,000

Yankees $ saved: $1,500,000

In what is most likely the last hurrah for the Yankee legend, he's brought the stability to the rotation that Yankee fans have expected from him for a long time now. It will be interesting to see how Cashman will replace him. There's no doubt he'll beg and plead Andy to come back for one more year before setting out on that quest, though. The Yankees could use the $1.5 million they've salvaged to lobby for a new award to be given to the yearly pickoff leader; the Andy Pettitte award.

Starting pitcher - Ivan Nova

Yankees $ paid so far: $300,000

Value in $ so far: $5,900,000

Yankees $ saved: $5,600,000

The hallmark of this pitching staff is young, solid, cost-controlled arms and Nova is a perfect example. He'll clearly never be a top of the rotation guy, but he is exactly what every good pitching staff needs: an average starter who's healthy enough to be an absolute steal at his salary. Thanks to Nova, the Yankees have a lot of extra cash to spread around, probably enough to give away replica Chevy Nova's at each home game he starts.

Starting pitcher - David Phelps

Yankees $ paid so far: $300,000

Value in $ so far: $5,500,000

Yankees $ saved: $5,200,000

Basically, all of the things said above about Nova can be extended to describe Phelps as well. The only difference is that David will be cost-controlled for a few more years than Ivan, so he has that going for him. Just like with Nova, with Phelps in the rotation the Steinbrenner's have another $5 million+ to play around with. Why not use that money to add some variety to the mustard selection (beyond French's) at Yankee Stadium?

Starting pitcher - Phil Hughes

Yankees $ paid so far: $4,200,000

Value in $ so far: $4,700,000

Yankees $ saved: $500,000

Phil is the latest in a long line of highly touted pitching prospects to not exactly work out for the Yankees. To his credit, he has still provided decent value over his career. With a few less injuries and fly balls he could have turned into a top of the rotation starter, but he's just not cut out for Yankee Stadium. The $500,000 he's saving this year could be used to raise the fences in Yankee Stadium temporarily (the House that Hughes Renovated) to help him out in the second half of his contract year.

Relief pitcher - David Robertson

Yankees $ paid so far: $1,800,000

Value in $ so far: $5,200,000

Yankees $ saved: $3,400,000

The heir apparent has been a top major league reliever for a few years now. Dubbing him the next Mariano Rivera would be unfair because nobody has been or will be Mo again, so expectations need to be tempered. However, he should fit in nicely as the closer starting next year and hopefully for many years to come. Using the $3.4 million in savings, the Yankees could bribe him to change his number so they can finally retire #30 for the consistently underrated and under-appreciated Willie Randolph.

Relief pitcher - Shawn Kelley

Yankees $ paid so far: $500,000

Value in $ so far: $2,700,000

Yankees $ saved: $2,200,000

Here's an example of the steady crop of good, relatively young relief arms acquired cheaply that has made the Yankee bullpen so effective in the Girardi era. Kelley has gone from an afterthought acquisition to a strikeout machine this year and is one of many reasons that the Yankees have been able to win close games. He and his bullpen-mates are probably tired of trotting out to the pitcher's mound in this heat, so the marginal money he's providing should be used on a fleet of pinstriped bullpen cars.

Relief pitcher - Boone Logan

Yankees $ paid so far: $1,800,000

Value in $ so far: $2,300,000

Yankees $ saved: $500,000

Surprisingly, Booney was the better player acquired in the second Javier Vazquez trade. Since then, he's been the exclusive lefty out of the ‘pen and is still providing quality innings at a reasonable price. Half a mil' can still go a long way these days. In this case it should be donated towards promoting awareness of International Lefthanders Day. You know, because lefties are the only ones in their right mind! Get it?

Relief pitcher - Preston Claiborne

Yankees $ paid so far: $300,000

Value in $ so far: $2,000,000

Yankees $ saved: $1,700,000

After showing a lot of promise over the first month of his career, it seems that his magic has run out. Luckily, the Yankees can cut their losses if he continues to be ineffective and replace him with one of the many young relievers waiting in the wings. Still, Preston has saved the team a whole lot of pocket change in the first half so they can repay him by having a Preston/Liz Claiborne handbag promo day.

Relief pitcher - Mariano Rivera

Yankees $ paid so far: $5,900,000

Value in $ so far: $5,000,000

Yankees $ wasted: -$900,000

Hold up, one of the greatest pitchers of all time in the midst of one of his greatest seasons is producing less than he's getting paid!? The reality of closers is that ever since La Russa and Eck wowed baseball for a couple of years with the one-inning closer concept, they have been severely overrated and overpaid. If any closer deserved a little extra in his paycheck though, I think everybody can agree it's Mo. Also, considering all the bats Mo has broken over the past 19 years, I'm sure the Steinbrenner's could broker a deal with Louisville Slugger to get some kickbacks for all the extra lumber they've had to ship out.

The biggest reason for the Yankees even being in contention this year so far is their effective pitching. With high priced veterans at the top of the rotation and young, efficiently priced arms rounding out the back of the rotation and bullpen, Cashman has found a mix that works both on the field and financially. It's all good and well that this mix has worked out so far, but relying on last minute veterans to plug into the top of the rotation each year is a bit risky and one of these years the well may run dry. Here's to hoping that one or two of the young pitchers throughout the organization grows into an elite starting pitcher sooner than later.