2015 Statistics: 184.1 IP, 5.9 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, 3.42 ERA, 4.00 FIP
2016 Age: 30
Position: Starting pitcher
Although they haven't really addressed it so far this offseason, one of the Yankees' big needs is another solid arm for the rotation. They have several arms already under contract, but several of them come with concerns, so it wouldn't hurt them to have more hands (or arms) on deck. Is Yovani Gallardo the right man for the job? I'm not so sure, but let's take a look anyway.
Gallardo hits free agency for the first time with some things working in his favor. First of all, he won't turn 30 until just after pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February. Despite his relatively young age, he has nine seasons of big league experience under his belt. He made his debut for the Brewers at just 21 years of age back in 2007, and has gone on to be one of the best Mexican-born starting pitchers in big league history. He's fourth all-time in wins by a Mexican pitcher with 102 (Ismael Valdez, Esteban Loaiza and Fernando Valenzuela are ahead of him), and fourth in starts behind the same for guys as well. Over his career he's made 244 starts (mostly in Milwaukee) and amassed a record of 102-75 with a 3.66 ERA, a 3.75 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. That's a pretty good run, wouldn't you agree?
All of that being said, he's not coming off of his best season. In fact, he put up career worsts in K/9 (5.9), FIP (4.00), K/BB (1.79), H/9 (9.4) and WHIP (1.416) in his first season with the Rangers last year. Furthermore, his K/9 declined for the third consecutive season as he's watched his strikeout rate fall from 9.0 in 2012 to 7.2 in 2013 to 6.8 in 2014 before it dipped to it's all-time low in 2015. Despite all that, his 3.42 ERA and 4.00 FIP still make him a pretty good middle-of-the-rotation arm. He's not the potential ace who would strike out 200+ guys every year anymore, but he can still get a lot of people out. He also kept the ball on the ground and, most importantly, in the stadium, as his 0.7 HR/9 rate was among the lowest in his career. He's also very durable, and has made 30 or more starts seven years in a row. So, while Gallardo is definitely trending downward in several aspects of his game, there is some evidence present that he's adjusting well to his diminished velocity and still getting guys out effectively and efficiently.
The pitching market being what it is, I still think Gallardo can expect a pretty decent contract this offseason. I know he's coming off of his worst season as a pro, but this doesn't mean whoever signs him has to give him that Jeff Samardzija money the Giants doled out. I think that, as a 30-year old middle-of-the-order pitcher, he could be looking at something like four years and $50 Million. The Yankees have said that they have no money to spend on free agents, and so I don't think they would want to give that kind of money to Gallardo. Frankly, I prefer that they keep their money, rather than give it to another declining pitcher anyway. If the Yankees brass do remember that they left $50 Million in their other pants and decide to bring in an arm, I'd much rather prefer a guy like Wei-Yin Chen.
What do you think? Is Gallardo the guy? If not, then who? Vote in the poll and leave your comments below!