2015 Statistics: 187 IP, 5.63 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 1.16 HR/ 9, 43.6 GB%, 5.05 ERA, 4.77 FIP
2016 Age: 35
Position: Right-handed starting pitcher
After trading Adam Warren to Chicago, and with all of the injury concerns up and down their rotation, the Yankees are understandably looking for starting pitching help this offseason. With the likes of Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto, as well as some lesser options like Jeff Samardzija off the board, the Yankees will now be forced to add lower tier starter in free agency, if they add one at all. If the Yankees want someone who could eat up innings at the back end of the rotation, they could do a lot worse than Alfredo Simon.
Simon made his major league debut in 2008 for the Orioles, but he didn't become a regular at the major league level until 2011. This debut came relatively late in baseball terms, as Simon was already 30 years old at the time. The Reds claimed Simon off waivers before the 2012 season, moving him to the bullpen. As a reliever, he performed admirably for them over the 2012 and 2013 seasons, posting ERAs south of 2.00 in both years while pitching in a fairly prominent relief role.
In 2014, the Reds moved him into the rotation, and for the first half of the season, Simon proved quite effective, even making his first All-Star Team. Before the break that year, Simon had a 2.70 ERA and 4.33 FIP with a 1.08 HR/9. His FIP/ERA discrepancy shows that he had some serious regression potential, and regress he did. In the second half of the 2014 season, Simon's control troubles reemerged when he walked 3.16 batters per nine innings and had a 4.52 ERA in the second half.
2015 saw him traded to the Detroit Tigers for his final year before free agency, and Simon showed more of the same from his lackluster end to 2014. Last year, Simon was simply a mediocre pitcher who managed to eat up some innings. His 5.05 ERA certainly won't win him any awards, but he did manage to throw 187 innings. He did, however, once again show command issues–as his 3.27 BB/9 will attest to–and his 1.44 WHIP was tied for the second worst mark in the league.
So why would the Yankees even be interested in a 34-year-old who's coming off a rough season? Well, for one thing, he'll be cheap, and could probably be had on a one or two-year deal. With the Yankees avoiding big, long-term contracts like the plague recently, he could be a serviceable back-end starter for a couple years without hurting the Yankees' financial flexibility. He's also a ground ball pitcher, which is especially helpful in Yankee Stadium. His 43.6 GB% rate from last year ranks among one of the lowest marks of his career 46.2% mark. Finally, as has been mentioned earlier, he's been quite durable over the past two seasons. With the health concerns the Yankees have, bringing in someone that's likely to pitch all season long is something that should at least be considered.
With that said, unless there are no other options (and the Yankees should sign someone before they run out of options), the Yankees would do well to avoid Simon. Grounders aside, he's not very good at keeping the ball in the ballpark, allowing 1.13 HR/9 in his career and an 11.9 HR/FB. Couple that with his 33.6% fly ball rate and it's clear that, though he doesn't give up a ton of fly balls, the balls that are hit in the air are going out of the park. Also, if you're getting nearly 200 innings of Simon, you're probably not making the playoffs. He also dealt with patella tendonosis for most of last year, which led to plenty of knee discomfort for him to work through. The Yankees don't need another older pitcher with balky knees. Better to sign Ian Kennedy or Mike Leake to add depth to the rotation, or to just let Bryan Mitchell take the Adam Warren role and slide in and out of the rotation.