New York Yankees' Top 5 Free-Agent Pitching Options

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2011

New York Yankees' Top 5 Free-Agent Pitching Options

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Starting pitcher Freddy Garcia #43 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    With Andy Pettitte continuing to lean toward retirement and the Yankees' stubborn refusal to give Joba Chamberlain a true shot at a rotation spot—despite his career 12-7 record and 4.18 ERA as a starter—New York must consider adding a free agent to replace Sergio Mitre as the No. 5 starter this season.

    Mitre was 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in three starts last season and holds a career 13-25 record and 5.48 mark in 64 career starts, so keeping him in the rotation for any extended period of time would be disastrous.

    With New York missing out on Cliff Lee, there aren't a lot of great options remaining on the free-agent market, but let's take a look at five that would be better than Mitre.

5. Kevin Millwood

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Pitcher Kevin Millwood #34 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 29, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Millwood, who turned 36 on Christmas Eve, is coming off his worst season as a Major Leaguer. The right-hander won just four games while suffering an American League-high 16 losses with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP for the Orioles.

    The upside is that he's reliable. Millwood has made at least 29 starts and thrown at least 168.2 innings in each of the past six seasons for Cleveland, Texas and Baltimore.

    But that doesn't outweigh the fact that he is 5-10 with a 5.11 ERA in 20 career starts against Tampa Bay and Toronto, and he made $12 million last year, so he'd demand way too much for what he can give the Yankees.

4. Jeremy Bonderman

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 18:  Jeremy Bonderman #38 of the Detroit Tigers reacts as Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases at Yankee Stadium on August 18, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jack Curry of the YES Network tweeted Monday that Yankee fans shouldn't count on the club signing Bonderman, and that's just fine.

    The 28-year-old right-hander made just 13 starts for the Tigers between 2008-09, and while he took 29 turns in the rotation last season for Detroit, the results weren't encouraging.

    Bonderman went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA and struck out just 112 batters, his lowest total over a full season since his rookie campaign of 2003.

    Bonderman is young, but also overpriced (he made $12.5 million last year), so the Bombers should pass.

3. Jeff Francis

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 13:  Starting pitcher Jeff Francis #26 of the Colorado Rockies delivers against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on September 13, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Francis won 44 games for the Rockies between 2005-07 before going 4-10 in '08 and missing the entire '09 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left throwing arm.

    He made 20 appearances (19 starts) for Colorado last year, going 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA.

    The 30-year-old's lifetime 4.77 ERA can't be blamed on the fact that he's played all six seasons at Coors Field because his career mark at home is 42 points lower than on the road. The fact that he's never pitched in the American League also has to be a concern.

2. Justin Duchscherer

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 12:  Starting pitcher Justin Duchscherer #58 of the the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the Mariners' home opener at Safeco Field on April 12, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Yankees are reportedly stepping up their pursuit of Duchscherer, but whether or not that's a good idea depends on the right-hander's health.

    Duchscherer was a successful reliever for the A's between 2004-06, when he compiled a 2.80 ERA in 237.2 innings.

    The right-hander made a smooth transition to the rotation in 2008, going 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts, but he missed the entire '09 season with shoulder and back injuries and a bout with clinical depression, and he pitched just 28 innings last April before being shut down.

    The 33-year-old probably has the biggest upside among the free agents the Yankees are considering, but his health is too big of a risk.

1. Freddy Garcia

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Starting pitcher Freddy Garcia #43 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 12-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    There are injury concerns with Garcia, who made just 23 starts between 2007-09 for the Phillies, Tigers and White Sox, but the right-hander bounced back last season to go 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 28 turns in the rotation for Chicago.

    That was his eighth year with at least a dozen victories, and Garcia, who will be 36 in June, is 16-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 lifetime starts against the Red Sox and Rays.

    Garcia earned just $1 million last year, so he shouldn't command a great deal of money, making him the Yankees' best free-agent option.

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