Unfortunately for the New York Yankees there's not much in the way of excellent starting pitching at the top of the free agent market. Especially since I'm in favor of avoiding C.J. Wilson.
I think the strength of the this free agent class is at the top, where there are a few studs and also in relief pitching where there's a lot of available talent. I'll take a look at some non-relief pitchers today and relief pitchers tommorrow or Friday.
NOT included in this list is C.J. Wilson.
Players the Yankees should target
Grady Sizemore (OF)
And there's the splashy, seemingly unnecessary move that non-Yankees fans hate. But wow, would I love to have an outfield of Curtis Granderon, Grady Sizemore, and Brett Gardner. Could you imagine having that kind of speed and defensive coverage in the outfield? No longer would defense be a liability. Injuires have really hurt what was once a extremely promising career for Sizemore. Still, he could come to the Yankees and play RF. I think many of us have seen enough of Nick Swisher in post-season, and if they do get Sizemore they could keep Swisher as an outfield reserve/bench utility hitter.
Last year Sizemore hit 10 HR while playing in 71 games for Cleveland and struck out way, way too many times (85 times in 71 games), but I think it's worth the shot.
Mark Buehrle (SP)
Buehrle is a gritty winner with pretty good stuff who has spent his entire career with the Chicago White Sox. He's a smart pitcher and his presence could help the younger Yankees pitchers like Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes.
Kansas City isn't in the same ballpark as New York, which is why I wasn't a huge fan of trying to acquire Zack Grienke in a trade last year (especially with his anxiety), but Chicago is pretty close and I've seen that Buerhle can handle that constant attention and pressure that Chicago brings. I also know Buehrle can pitch in the American league effectively and has had success in the playoffs as well, meaning he's probably the safest choice for the Yankees when it comes to adding pitching talent. And at his age, it's unlikely he commands a future inhibiting type of contract.
Yu Darvish (SP), Japan
How many times have we seen this song and dance fail? Too many times even the Yankees alone have a couple of horror stories (Irabu, Kei Igawa...makes me shudder...even Dice K), but that doesn't mean Darvish is next in a long line of disappointments. Darvish is still young (26 years old) and has more upside than any of the other players. I've seen what the other pitchers in this market to offer and it's not pretty.
Yes the cost risk is potentially astronomical and perhaps morally unjust, but it's within the rules and the upside is hard to ignore. I've seen what else is out there and I don't like it, maybe Darvish can be the diamond in a rough the Yankees have been waiting for.
Plus it's not like the Yankees can't swallow bad contracts, so if it doesn't work out the Yankees just have to move on and wait until King Felix or some other young stud pitcher becomes a free agent.
Aaron Harang, Pitcher, San Diego Padres
Yuck! This is just trying to rekindle the magic the Yankees found in the form of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon in 2011. Harang was one of the most underrated pitchers in the league when he was with the Cincinnati Reds, and had a very nice season last year with the Padres (pitching in San Diego tends to have that effect). And I'm worried about how his career 4.25 E.R.A will translate to the American League, but this guy is a bonafide innings eater. Last year he was starting to round back into form a little bit and pitched 170 innings. He's had success pitching in a hitters park before (in Cincinnati), and is worth the risk. I mean, you get what you pay for.
But the Yankees need to continue to draft and develop young pitching talent, so he's really just a stop-gap kind of player.
Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins utility player is not a splashy addition, but is a player who plays the game the "Minnesota Twins" way as much as a Minnesota Twins guy can play and I think he'd be excellent depth and fill in player for the New York Yankees who could also play the DH role if the Yankees decide to move forward with Jesus Montero as the primary catcher and move on from Russell Martin. Kubel is not a long-term solution, but if they can get him on the cheap I think he'd be a nice roster addition. This just might be my perception of him, but I envision him as a clutch player.
Do they Dare?
It would really, really hurt Derek Jeter's feelings to bring in Reyes, but to think in any way it could hurt the Yankees would be crazy. Reyes is coming off his finest season as a pro and is a very good player player all around. His range at shortstop would be a welcome addition tot he middle of the Yankees infield. He'd also could be inserted right at the top of the lineup and if Jeter batted second and Gardner batterd ninth it would give the Yankees one of the fastest and most dangerous top of the orders in the league (or 9-2 order in the league after the first inning). I'm drooling a bit, but it's unlikely anything surfaces with the Yankees and Jose Reyes.
These are the fivd players I'm interested in seeing the Yankees bring to New York, plus one I know they won't, but I would love to see as a greedy, greedy Yankees fan. Might as well throw in Pulojs too, right?