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Yankees potential free agent targets: The best of the rest – Starting pitching

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Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue to look for the next, next, next best thing on the free agent market, we look toward starting pitching. Of course, the Yankees are likely to target Brandon McCarthy, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer before many of these guys, but seriously, what if everything all goes wrong and someone swoops in and signs them all? They seem to be very determined to take the players they want only under the terms of their choosing, so it could happen. Get to know these names, just in case:

LHP Brett Anderson43.1 IP, 2.91 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 6.02 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, 61 GB%, 1.1 WAR
There are two things we know about Brett Anderson; one, he'll be good, and two, he'll get hurt. It's going to happen. So while it will likely keep his contract down to an affordable rate, the Yankees can't expect him to be a staple in the rotation all year. Perhaps if they go with Anderson to start the year they can hope he makes it through the second half of the season in time for Ivan Nova to return from the disabled list.

RHP Aaron Harang204.1 IP, 3.57 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 7.09 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 39.4 GB%, 2.5 WAR
If there was an award for biggest surprise season, Aaron Harang probably would have won it. He's always been a useful innings eater, but this season he reached back to his younger days when he passed the 200-inning plateau for the first time in seven years. The Yankees can't expect to get that kind of production from him again at 37, but in a rotation consisting of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia, a healthy arm could go a long way.

LHP Paul Maholm 70.2 IP, 4.84 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 4.33 K/9 3.57 BB/9, 54.4 GB%, -0.8 WAR
Maholm has quietly been a very useful starting pitcher for a while now, however when the Dodgers decided to try him as a swingman out of the bullpen last year, it didn't work out too well. If the Yankees bring him on, he should be pitching out of the rotation, and if CC Sabathia is too terrible to be useful, he'll be their sole lefty. With a career ground ball rate of over 50%, Maholm fits perfectly into what the Yankees are trying to build, especially in Yankee Stadium.

RHP Carlos Villanueva 77.2 IP, 4.64 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 8.34 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, 41.3 GB%, 1.1 WAR
Villanueva is the quintessential fifth starter-type. He can give you innings, decent peripherals with plenty of ground balls, and will maintain a sub-5.00 ERA. The Yankees could probably fill that in with someone like David Phelps or Bryan Mitchell, but if they trade someone or Sabathia, Tanaka, and Pineda all end up on the DL, it will be useful to have Villanueva around.

It's unlikely that any of these guys will find their way onto the Yankees, but there actually is a greater than 0% chance of it actually happening. Anderson wouldn't be too bad of a signing, as long as they don't expect him to be healthy, but it's pretty clear that the Yankees need to get someone on their wish list so it doesn't come to this.