Early Tuesday morning, Cliff Lee made a surprising announcement that he would be returning to Philadelphia with the signing of a five year, $120 million contract proposed by the team Monday night. This announcement left the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers still looking to add a starting pitcher to their rotation.
Lets start with the Yankees. Throughout the Winter Meetings and the offseason as a whole, the Yankees have shown little to no interest in acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals, as they already have three right-handed starting pitchers in the rotation. It is also highly unlikely that Tampa Bay will be willing to deal Matt Garza to New York because of being in the same division. So what is left for them? Carl Pavano is a right-hander who also would not be a strong fit in the rotation, same thing with Brandon Webb. Jeff Francis could likely end up as the next target on the Yankees radar if no other intriguing deals arise in the near future.
Jeff Francis however, is definitely not who the Yankees were targeting as the season came to an end. Francis has a career record of 55-50 in six seasons in the big leagues. In that time, he has only recorded 603 strikeouts, with a 4.22 earned run average, and only two complete games in that span. Should the team look to invest in younger talent, they could also look towards Andrew Miller.
Miller was a pitching phenom while at the University of North Carolina and was a highly-touted prospect coming into the majors. He has had a few disappointing seasons, with a career record of 15-26 with an ERA of 5.84. This would be a risk, but still a small possibility for New York.
How will Philadelphia Finish in 2011?
Now for Texas. The Rangers have C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman, and Tommy Hunter returning in 2011. They are in the same situation as the Yankees as well. With three right handers in the rotation already, the team is looking for a left hander to replace Lee. Sources have said that the team does not have much chance to land Greinke, but there is a possibility of them working out a deal to acquire Matt Garza from the Rays. Should this not work out they could possibly look into Pavano and Webb and go with a rotation featuring four right handed pitchers. Another possibility is prospect Derek Holland. Holland started ten games for the Rangers this season posting a 3-4 record with a 4.08 ERA.
New York will be hurt the most with this announcement as C.C. Sabathia is their only proven pitcher and lone left hander in the rotation at this point. However he is coming off of knee surgery and will be tested in the beginning of the year to see if this surgery has altered any mechanics in his delivery. A.J. Burnett posted a 5.26 ERA in 2010 and Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are both only 24 years of age heading into the season. The Yankees could be scrambling to find another left handed pitcher to fill the void left with Lee's announcement.
Both teams are now left with three right handed pitchers in the rotation and now must look to plan B to complete their starting rotation. Watch for some deals to be made in the next few weeks as both teams will be trying to complete a deal sooner rather than later.