With the recent news that Yu Darvish has been "won" by the Texas Rangers coupled with the signing of former Rangers ace C.J. Wilson by the Los Angeles Angels of anaheim there is slim pickings out there for front of the line rotation help. But, it's hard to believe that the New York Yankees won't do something to their rotation.
Here are five options the Yankees could pursue. (And it's not pretty)
I'm using this Hot Stove Tracker from MLB for a list of who's available.
Jackson has the talent and durability the Yankees could covet as a starter. The interesting thing about Jackson is that teams find him expendable. The Dodgers got rid of him, then the Rays got rid of him (probably salary concerns), but then the Tigers moved him, and now the Cardinals haven't brought him back yet even though he had a solid season with him. But on the field he might be the best pitcher still available in the free agency market.
Chris Young SP NYM
Chris Young has always been a good pitcher who just can't stay healthy. Of all of the retread guys available and guys coming off injury-plagued seasons/careers (like Brandon Webb), Young will have to be checked out medically, but if he's available he's a good pitcher. He has a career ERA of 3.74 and batters hit only .216 off of him. He has make you miss ability which is important in Yankee Stadium and has some experience playing in New York, but again will he ever be healthy?
If you look at Francis' won-loss record from last year you cringe (6-16), but there are things to like about him. Like, he's a dependable starter who has an ERA under 5.00 for his career (not saying much, I get it) ,but can eat up innings. He hasn't had a lot of injury problems in his career, he's left-handed, and he pitched 183 innings last year. The Yankees have enough offense to get Francis around 10-12 wins if he pitches the way he did last year. Are you going to count on Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia staying healthy again (I wouldn't bank on it). Francis isn't flashy, but he's not useless, either.
Yes you cringe at the name, but he's THE best pitcher left on the free-agent market. (Seriously it's a terrible market), Vazquez had another good season last year with a 3.63 ERA. And maybe third time's the charm? The Yankees won't do this, but he might actually be the best option in terms of a talent standpoint.
I tried to tell you it wasn't pretty! Rich Harden is supremely talented, but is another guy who is coming off a career of injuries. When he's healthy and on his game, he has some of the best stuff in Major League baseball. The problem, of course, is that he's rarely healthy. And he's also struggled last season when healthy. But he's talented and that's more you can say about the rest of the players available.
You may have noticed I left off the name Roy Oswalt. I just don't think he's a great fit in New York and his age is a concern, obviously. But he's just as much of a possibility as other retreads!
Where the Yankees could spend money on pitching is in the relief department, but that's not really a big concern for the Yankees who have one of the league's best bullpens. There are a lot of former closers out there who could be used in a less stressful role. The market was saturated with talent at the start of free agency but players like Jonathan Papelbon, and Jonathan Broxton have already signed with teams.
Players like David Aardsma, who can close in a pinch, Mike Gonzalez (a talented lefty with closer experience, but also an injury history), Mike MacDougal (former Royals closer who had a good year in 2011-2.05 ERA in 69 games), Kerry Wood and Joel Zumaya are just some names who could come in and help out.
In either case, though, if the Yankees are looking for pitching help, it is probably going to have to come through a trade of farm system because there is not much out there on the free-agent market to get excited about for the 2012 season.