With the World Series over, the Yankees have very quickly taken care of some business for next season. They picked up the options of both Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, re-signed general manager Brian Cashman to a three-year deal and agreed to a contract extension with lefty ace CC Sabathia (thus avoiding an A-Rod like opt out drama). So now what?
Cashman has said that pitching is still a priority (isn’t it always?), but this is a pretty thin free-agent market. The options out there are not incredibly inspiring and come with a bunch of question marks attached. Here are three of the more interesting hurlers that could be available:
- Japan’s Yu Darvish is the most intriguing choice out there. Darvish, 25, went 18-4 with a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011 and is 93-38 with a 2.12 ERA during his seven-year career. But the Yankees have been burned by diving into the waters of Japanese pitching before. (Kei Igawa does that Scranton Wilkes-Barre uni proud.) Cashman claims the Yankees have learned their lessons from past mistakes and are more prepared in their evaluation of Japanese players. “We’ve gotten a lot more educated by our past experiences as you would expect,” he says. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to shy away. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be more aggressive. That just means I think we’ve gotten more educated.” That’s all well and good, but the Igawa debacle still makes me less than enthusiastic about shopping for pitching in the Land of the Rising Sun.
- After watching C.J. Wilson’s performance during the postseason, I must say I’m underwhelmed (he went 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA). While it would be nice to have another lefty in the rotation, Wilson is going to go for a hefty sum, and he just doesn’t have enough of a track record to warrant that kind of contract. The soon-to-be-31-year-old has only been a starter for two years. Wilson claims he wants to stay in Texas, “We went out and won a bunch of games and threw a bunch of innings and did stuff that no other organization can say, not even the mighty Red Sox or Yankees.” I guess by “did stuff” he means, being one strike away from winning the World Series several times in one game and blowing it. Nolan Ryan can keep him.
- Mark Buehrle has something neither Wilson nor Darvish have and that’s a long proven track record in the major leagues. He has pitched his entire 12-year career in the American League (for the White Sox) and has averaged 15 wins a season. The 32-year-old lefty has pitched both a no-hitter and a perfect game. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he can pitch and is an excellent fielding pitcher. If he can be signed to a reasonable deal, he could be worth taking a chance on. Plus Buehrle’s played under Ozzie Guillen, so the New York media will be like a cakewalk for him.
Of course, the Yankees may decide to do nothing or go with more known factors like bringing back Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon. Either way, it looks to be all about the pitching yet again for the Yanks as the Hot Stove heats up this off-season.