The Yankees really like buying low on players who they feel are in the right position to rebound. Many of these players, like Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy, are in this position because of simple ineffectiveness and with a few tweaks they could be as good as new. Sometimes, though, good players are left with minor league contracts as their only option after dealing with injuries that put their career in question. The Yankees have already re-signed Andrew Bailey, who is still recovering from a serious shoulder injury, so there's at least a possibility that they could bring in others. Here are three guys who might fit.
Scott Baker, RHP: Throughout his career, Scott Baker has never been an exciting pitcher. He's been a solid backend starter over the years, contributing a 3.98 ERA and 3.86 FIP and averaging 164 innings per season from 2007-2011. Unfortunately, it was soon after that everything fell apart. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, missing the entire season and almost all of the next. He finally made it back in a full-time capacity in 2014, but pitched terribly with a 5.47 ERA and 4.78 FIP over 80.2 innings. As a big fly ball pitcher he won't make the most sense, but he's not going to get in anyone's way and could be useful in case of an emergency. At his best, Baker could be an alternative to Chris Capuano.
Chad Billingsley, RHP: The one-time ace of the Dodgers before Clayton Kershaw came onto the scene is still only 30 years old. A healthy Billingsley could be a middle of the rotation-type pitcher who can keep the ball in the park (7.6% HR/FB) and on the ground (46.3 GB%). Things took a bad turn in 2013 when he required Tommy John surgery and he has now missed essentially the last two seasons, but a minor league deal could make sense for the Yankees as he continues to distance himself from surgery and Capuano stays in the rotation. If this is to be his first full healthy season back from surgery then it is probably best to see how he does at Triple-A first and then only expect him to serve as the fifth starter right now.
Felipe Paulino, RHP: Paulino was the type of arm that had plenty of potential, but didn't seem to be able to harness any of it. He didn't prove himself to even be a major league-caliber player until his age-26 season in 2011 when he pitched to a 4.11 ERA and and 3.51 FIP in 124.2 innings after being traded to the Kansas City Royals that year. He followed up his first solid year with seven elite-level starts in 2012 before he succumbed to Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2013 season and made only four starts last year before undergoing shoulder surgery as well. It seems that the price for unlocking his potential was the utter destruction of his pitching arm, and while he's unlikely to offer much going forward, he's at least worth a look as a potential Triple-A pitcher in order to fill out the rotation and hopefully surprise us.
Perhaps if the Yankees can determine that there is still something to be had out of either of their arms, one of Baker, Billingsley or Paulino could make sense as a minor league signing. Right now the Scranton rotation is devoid of much upside, and while guys in their 30s aren't going to add much, they at least hold the potential to be major league arms if they prove to be healthy. I'd really like the Yankees to go after Chad Billingsley, who seems to have multiple teams chasing him at the moment. The bar is currently set pretty low as he would only have to be better than Chris Capuano at some point in the season.