Andy Pettite says he has thrown his last professional pitch. The first of the Yankees famed "Fab Four" has called it quits after 16 seasons, 13 spent in the Bronx. He retires with 240 wins, a 3.88 ERA, 1.357 WHIP and 2,251 career strikeouts. But more impressive than those numbers are his postseason tallies. He pitched in 13 playoffs, 30 playoff series, and eight World Series. He finished his career with 19 playoff wins, including five in the Fall Classic.
Now, the Yankees are left with a weaker rotation than they already had. Everyone agrees they need to go get something, but what fits?
Here are 10...maybe 11...ptions.
Jeremy Bonderman has drawn interest from the Tigers and Indians this offseason but is still without a home. The 28-year-old was a first round pick in 2001. He hasn’t quite panned out, posting a career record of 67-77 with a 4.89 ERA in eight seasons with Detroit. In 2006, he was 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, and 202 strikeouts, but he hasn’t been close to those numbers since. Bonderman would likely come cheap and could provide some quality starts.
The Yankees have little to lose in giving Bonderman a chance to revive his career, as he is still under 30 and might have some good years left if 2011 went well.
Doug Davis has had one winning season since 2001, a 13-12 effort in 2007. The Brewers declined his club option for 2011 after his 2010 was limited to eight starts with various injuries. In 2004-05, Davis had back-to-back seasons over 200 innings, sub-4 ERA, and over 10 wins. At 35, he isn’t likely to make 30 starts in a season, but the Yankees might find use for him at the right price. Even if Davis could provide 20 starts, along with some long-relief appearances out of the bullpen later in the season, he might be a bargain at the basement price he is likely to sign for.
Ryan Dempster could be a free agent after this season, but his contract includes a player option for 2012. At 33 years old, he could become available if the Cubs struggle early. The Yankees have some pieces that could be attractive to a rebuilding Cubs team. Jesus Montero, the consensus top-10 catching prospect, would likely be the centerpiece of any deal for pitching the team attempted.
However, such a high profile prospect could draw an even larger haul from an American League team who could put the suspect defender at designated hitter, where his pro-ready bat could make an immediate impact. Dempster would provide a ton of experience to a predominantly young rotation.
Paul Maholm is in the last year of a deal that includes a club option for 2012. The Pirates have already been floating his name on the trade market with little success, but with Pettite retiring, the Yankees might be listening.
The 2012 option is worth $9.75 million and is unlikely to be picked up, but at 30 years old, the former eighth overall pick has never been on a team with less than 94 losses. There is still potential if he got a chance to win. That much losing can have a negative impact on a young pitcher. Getting a shot at a meaningful game could boost Maholm to maximize his potential.
John Maine is recovering nicely from 2010 shoulder surgery and could be a cost-effective addition to the Yankees rotation. So far, it looks like he will be back in time for spring training, but that is no guarantee with pitchers coming off shoulder surgery. If he does fully recover, Maine might be in a position to accept a minor league contract and try to earn a roster spot with a contender who would give him a look.
If New York would give him a look, and Maine is healthy, he is capable of notching valuable innings. Plus, he already has plenty of experience pitching in New York, so the media shock won't be a worrisome as it would be from a pitcher coming from a small market.
Fausto Carmona could be one option that would draw a decent haul of prospects for a constantly rebuilding Indians team. At 27, Carmona has been up and down, most recently finishing 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA over 210.1 innings in 2010. Once thought to be the long-term ace of a promising young staff, Cleveland has gone from bad to worse, and Carmona is one of few players left who could draw some useful pieces for the future.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could capitalize on the Indians plight by offering prospects from their moderately deep minor league system to add a young arm to the back of their rotation. Carmona is another pitcher who hasn’t experienced much winning and could thrive in the Bronx.
Edwin Jackson was acquired by the White Sox under rumors he would be flipped to Washington for Adam Dunn. Instead, the Sox are now stuck with the last year of Jackson’s contract and could be looking to deal him, making room for incoming phenom Chris Sale. With Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Jake Peavy already in the rotation, Jackson would be the most likely piece to move as a one year rental. The deal would likely cost the Yankees prospects, but the 27-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance, including a 2010 no-hitter.
Wandy Rodriguez was one of the best pitchers in baseball after the All-Star Break last season. In 14 starts, he was 5-1 with a 2.11 ERA, 1.036 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB ratio. Rodriguez is 31. The Astros just signed him to a three-year extension in January, but they would be hard pressed to decline a competitive offer with a package of prospects incoming, considering the team is unlikely to compete in the near future. With Carlos Lee aging very quickly, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt already shipped off, the ‘Stros seem to be pushing for a youth movement, and keeping the 31-year-old ace might not be in the cards.
Chris Carpenter is coming off a 16-9 season in which he posted a 3.22 ERA and 179 strikeouts over 235 innings. But he is owed $15 million in 2011 and another $15 million or $1 million buyout in 2013. Meanwhile, a certain Cardinal is coming up on free agency, and the 35-year-old might be the easiest way to make room for a potentially historic contract. A rotation with Sabathia, Carpenter, and Hughes would go a long way in putting the Yankees back on top of baseball. This deal would almost certainly have to involve Montero.
Felix Hernandez might be a pipe dream for Yankees management. But the Mariners are bad. With Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda potentially making debuts this season, the minor league system is bare. Brian Cashman has shown he is willing to do what it takes in the past. This would surely be a megadeal among the most high-profile in history, but if anyone could pull it off, it’d be the Steinbrenners. Hernandez is owed $10, 18.5, 19.5, and 20 million over the next three seasons. Be sure Cashman has inquired as to King Felix, and don’t be too sure they hung up on him.
Ok... maybe there's one more possibility...
The Yankees ALWAYS get their man. If they wouldn’t go the extra dollar to get Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford, and with Pettite walking away from a reported $12 million… Jorge Posada, the team’s current DH is a free agent after this season, as are Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones, … That’s a ton of money back in Yankees’ pockets, and a certain first baseman will be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season… Just saying, if they didn't get "their man" of the 2011 free agent pool, maybe he wasn't the man they had in mind...