How many times have you heard that the New York Yankees need starting pitching ever since they lost out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes a year ago? Ten, 50, 100? Probably more, and there is a reason for that—the Yankees need starting pitching.
There are countless possibilities out there, but only a handful will come at the desired price and deliver in New York. Discounting Yankees' prospects like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, which pitchers would fit that bill?
Let's find out.
199.2 IP, 12-9, 3.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 148 K, 62 BB
Edwin Jackson is reportedly seeking a five-year, $60 million deal. If his agent was not Scott Boras, I would say that he has no chance of getting that deal, but with Boras in the picture, anything is possible.
At that price, the New York Yankees will not be interested in Jackson, but pitchers seem to be over-estimating their value this offseason. CJ Wilson reportedly was looking for a six-year, $120 million deal before settling for a five-year, $77.5 million deal, which is one less year and $4.5 million less per season. That would be the equivalent of a four-year, $43.5 million deal, which is a much more reasonable one.
At only 28-years-old, Jackson has the making of being a very good pitcher. Jackson has pitched an average of 207.2 innings over the last three seasons and did spend three years in the AL East as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
You may not be impressed by his 3.79 ERA, but he was incredibly unlucky in 2011 due to his .330 BABIP, which was the second highest in the entire majors.
If Jackson lowers his asking price to somewhere around three-years and $30 million, expect Brian Cashman and the Yankees to come calling.
139 IP, 9-10, 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 93 K, 33 BB
Roy Oswalt started off by asking for a multi-year deal, and with his injured back, the New York Yankees decided not to pursue him. However, Oswalt recently said he was willing to take a one-year deal.
Oswalt has an incredible 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in an average of 196 innings pitched during his 11-year career. If the Yankees can get that kind of production for just one year, they should pull the trigger, but Oswalt is 34 years old and has spent his entire career in the NL, so that is probably not likely.
A stat line of about 180 innings pitched and a 3.40 ERA is much more likely and would be worth his price tag because of his willingness to sign a short-term deal. If he wanted a multi-year his yearly salary would have to come down, but if he seriously will accept a one-year deal, the Yankees should be interested, as long as he demands less that $14 million.
202 IP, 13-16, 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 161 K, 49 BB
Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees were interested in trading for Hiroki Kuroda at the 2011 trade deadline, but he was unwilling to waive his no trade clause and leave the West Coast. With West Coast teams such as the Dodgers, Angels and Mariners filling up their starting rotations, Kuroda seems to be running out of options.
The Yankees, Red Sox and Japan seem to be his last three options and he seems to be wanting a one-year deal in the range of $12-$13 million. Kuroda will not be a long term option but as a one year stop gap between now and the stacked 2012-2013 free agent class.
If Hiroki Kuroda can give the New York Yankees one year similar to his 2011 season, he will be well worth the price. I know that will be difficult because he has to move from the NL to the AL, from large Dodger Stadium to small Yankee Stadium and from an offensively challenged NL West to the AL East, which is full of powerhouse offenses.
The transition will be a tough one, but the Yankees should be interested, because over the last two years, Kuroda has averaged 199 innings pitched, 3.23 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
198 IP, 10-10, 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 197 K, 63 BB
The Chicago Cubs seem to be selling their best players for young prospects this offseason. They already sent Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo, Sean Marshall for Travis Wood and Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad. The Cubs also reportedly are willing to absorb most of the $54 million left on Alfonso Soriano's contract in order to trade him.
Theo Epstein and the Cubs seem to be willing to trade Matt Garza for the right price. With the news that the Detroit Tigers, who are one of the frontrunners for Garza, are not willing to trade Jacob Turner, the price will drop to about what the Washington Nationals traded for Gio Gonzalez. That trade netted the Oakland A's Brad Peacock, AJ Cole, Tommy Milone and Derrick Norris.
None of those four prospects were ever ranked in the Top 100 Prospects by Baseball America, but those prospects are valuable.
Minorleagebaseball.com ranked AJ Cole as a B+ prospect, Brad Peacock as a B prospect, Derrick Norris as a C prospect and Tommy Milone as a mid-level prospect. That would be equivalent to Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Phil Hughes and Austin Romine for Matt Garza.
Matt Garza has averaged 202 inning pitched over the last three years, posted a 3.32 ERA in 2011 and spent three years in the AL East as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. If Brian Cashman can negotiate a reasonable trade like the one above, he should definitely pull the trigger, because 28-year-old pitchers with 2.95 FIP in 2011 do not become available very often.
170.2 IP, 9-9, 3.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 123 K, 25 BB
Is it just me or is Billy Beane obsessed with young prospects? So far this offseason he has traded arguably the A's three best players in Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey.
If you looked at McCarthy's ERA, WHIP, innings pitched and other traditional statistics, you may ask why the Yankees would be interested in him, but since Billy Beane is the GM of the A's, you have to look at the more advanced sabermetric stats.
McCarthy had the fifth lowest FIP in the majors in 2011 with a 2.86. He also had a higher WAR (4.7) than pitchers such as Tim Lincecum, David Price, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Zack Greinke.
For his likely low price, Brian Cashman should trade for Brandon McCarthy.
152 IP, 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 90 K, 44 BB
The 25-year-old righty looked like a Cy Young candidate at the All-Star break, but a knee injury shortened his season. Don't think that 2011 was Jurrjens' breakout season. In 2009, he pitched 215 innings and posted a 2.60 ERA.
Mark Bowman from MLB.com reports that the Braves are shopping Jurrjens and that the Royals are the frontrunner. If the Yankees are interested, and because of their need for pitching—they are—they can steal Jurrjens for a fairly cheap package.
The Braves' biggest needs are in the outfield and at shortstop, so a package will start with Nick Swisher and Eduardo Nunez. Then in order to replace Jurrjens, at least until the Braves' big pitching prospects show up, the Yankees would send over Phil Hughes.
The Braves would be getting a very good package of players, while the Yankees would be getting a very good No. 2 pitcher for a fourth outfielder (if they can get Cespedes), a utility fielder and an underachieving starting pitcher.
199 IP, 11-9, 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 144 K, 55 BB
The first issue with this trade would be Johan Santana's full no trade clause, but I have no doubt he would accept a deal to the Mets' crosstown rivals. The Mets seem to be trying to save money by trading away Francisco Rodriguez and letting Jose Reyes walk in free agency.
Santana is also owed $49.5 million over the next two years with a $25 million club option and a $5.5 million buyout for 2014. The Mets would have to pay quite a bit of his contract to get this deal done, but it s a possibility.
The only way I would not ask the Mets for a sizable amount of money to cover Santana's contract is if they would take the two years and $33 million left on AJ Burnett's contract. In the process, the New York Mets would save $22 million.
The Mets would have to choose between saving money and getting top prospects for Johan Santana, but in the end, I think a deal could get done because of Santana's success and price tag.
He will not cost as much as the Minnesota Twins asked for in 2008. Santana showed he can handle New York by averaging 200 innings pitched and a 2.85 ERA in his three years as a Met.
A package that starts with AJ Burnett, Hector Noesi, Phil Hughes and Slade Heathcott would probably get a deal done for the 33-year-old ace.
221.2 IP, 12-11, 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 179 K, 63 BB
Matt Cain plays second fiddle in San Francisco to Tim Lincecum, but he is still a Cy Young-caliber pitcher.
Cain is a 27-year-old righty with a 3.35 career ERA. Cain has pitched at least 200 innings in five straight seasons and posted a 2.88 ERA in 2011.
The only problem with Cain is the transition from the NL to AL and moving from pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Despite those issues, Matt Cain should be able to succeed in New York.
Matt Cain will never be called a power pitcher, but his 179 Ks in 2011 are very impressive. He will also only be 28 years old when he hits the open market.
Cain has pitched at least 190 innings in the last six seasons, so we know he is a workhorse, but his most impressive stat is also the most important. He has a 0.00 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched in the playoffs.
The only goal for the Yankees is winning the World Series, and bringing in a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA and a ring will help their rotation immensely.
Cain should have no problem transitioning to the pressure of New York.
216 IP, 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 194 K, 44 BB
Cole Hamels was a part of the Philadelphia Phillies' "Phour Aces" in 2011, but with Roy Oswalt likely leaving, they will be down to "only" three aces.
Hamels will probably not sign an extension between now and next offseason in order to test free agency. If he does reach free agency, Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees will go all out to sign the 28-year-old lefty.
Perhaps his most impressive statistic is his 3.09 ERA in the postseason, and if you take out his horrid 2009 postseason, his ERA would drop to an incredible 1.72.
The Yankees will have to give him to at least six years and $120 million to sign him away from the Phillies, but it would be worth it because it would give the Yankees two aces atop their rotation for four more years.
217 IP, 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 220 K, 86 BB
I gave my full view on Tim Lincecum here, but I will summarize my thoughts right here. This is by far the least likely pitcher on this list to become a Yankee, but he would be well worth the price.
Tim Lincecum will be very expensive due to his two Cy Young Awards, age (27 years old), 2.98 career ERA and his 2.43 ERA in 37 innings of postseason work.
Most people would wonder why the Giants would trade a pitcher like this—and the answer is because Lincecum has not yet signed an extension to stay in San Francisco.
LIncecum and the Giants are reportedly still "far apart" in negotiations, and the potential haul from the Yankees would include names such as Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Phil Hughes and Brett Gardner.
Lincecum is a great pitcher, but some people question his long-term arm health because it could be jeopardized by his unorthodox delivery. I am not one of those people, and I would make the trade stated above for Lincecum.
With a very strong rotation and a weak offense, Giants GM Brian Sabean would be wise to at least listen to the Yankees regarding his ace. This is by far the most unlikely pitcher to come to New York, but I have no doubt Brian Cashman has called Brian Sabean regarding their ace.