Monday, February 12, 2018

What About The Other Top Free Agent Starters?

Naturally, after Yu Darvish was signed by the Chicago Cubs, Yankees fans started looking at some of the other top free agent starters. Well, let me just say.... stop.

If the Yankees bring in any starter for this season it should be a top of the rotation type. That means guys like Andrew Cashner or Tyler Chatwood should not even be considered. Mind you, those two would make fine additions to a team looking for a solid starter for the middle of their rotation, but the Yankees have plenty of guys for that. Heck, with Sonny Gray as their #3 starter, the Yankees may very well have the best "middle of the rotation" in baseball.

That may make some fans think of the other "top" free agent starters that are still available. That being Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb.

Let's start with Arrieta. On the surface he may seem like a guy you'd like to see added to the rotation. Even if you throw out his 2015 Cy Young season by considering it an outlier, he still posted a 3.30 ERA, including an ERA+ of 129, in 61 starts from 2016 to 2017. But when it comes to guys like Jake, who will very likely sign with a team for five years, you have to consider how a contract would end. And seeing as how his home run rate has gone up in each of the past four seasons (0.3 HR/9 to 0.4 to 0.7 to 1.2), he gave up more hits per nine innings than he has since 2012, and his WHIP has gone up in each of the past three years, I think this should be a definite "pass".

Then comes Lance Lynn. After a little less than a thousand innings thrown in MLB, Lance's ERA has never been above 3.97. And for those worried about him having had Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago, he bounced back very well last season and started 33 games. But did you know that his strikeout rate was lower than it's ever been in his career, while his walk and home run rates were never higher? Sure, that could be a hangover from missing all of 2016, but it seems like an unnecessary gamble for a team that already has a pretty good starting rotation.

Finally there's Alex Cobb. Like Lynn, Cobb had Tommy John surgery as well, but he had it a year earlier in 2015. After missing the vast majority of the 2016 season while recovering Alex didn't bounce back quite so well in his five starts at the end of the year (8.59 ERA, along with giving up 15 earned runs over his last 4.1 innings). Then came last season when his ERA dropped down to a very nice 3.66. But what scares me away from Alex is that he's no longer able to use his best pitch... the split-finger fastball. He improved his curveball to give him a good complimentary pitch to his four-seamer, but am I willing to gamble on even a four year deal here? Not if I'm Brian Cashman and already have a full rotation and some nice prospects knocking on the door of MLB.

And let's talk about those younger guys.

Jordan Montgomery would likely be the odd-man out of the rotation, and I don't like that. Jordan may not be a future ace, but I wouldn't want to hold back a 24 year-old starter that had an ERA of just 3.88 last season, along with a very respectable strikeout rate of 8.3 per 9 innings. If we were talking about a 34 year-old then this would be a totally different conversation, but in the case of Monty we're talking about a guy that could very well get better. And better than 2017 Montgomery is as good as you can hope to get out of those three guys I talked about earlier.

Then you have Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield. Now, I'm not a big Adams fan, as I think he is destined for the bullpen, but you have to give the guy a shot as starter. And while Sheffield may begin the season in AA, he could very well get some starts in the Majors by the end of the season. By the way, every "expert" I've read ranks Sheffield ahead of Adams.

You can't forget that signing one of those three top free agent starters could lead to not seeing younger guys like Albert Abreu, another youngster that many people are high on. Or Dillon Tate, who... like Chance Adams... may be destined for the bullpen, but has earned a chance to be a MLB starter.

At this point I hope that Cashman sticks with what he has. I hope he gives things a couple of months to see how his current rotation pans out while seeing how his top prospects start the 2018 season. If an injury occurs, and neither Adams or Sheffield can be counted on to help, then Brian can use the Yankees nice crop of prospects to pull of a trade for a top of the rotation starter by the trade deadline, like they did for Sonny Gray last year.

Look... it's tough. Since Giancarlo Stanton was traded for this offseason has been a total bore. Well, it's been a "bore" for all of Major League Baseball, but for Yankees fans it's been nearly unbearable. Thankfully the "keep in mind we did trade for Stanton" memes help. But we must stick together and stay the course.


  1. It has nothing to do with your post but Goose Gossage can go to hell. He is about as worthless as Curt Schilling. Gossage should be "excommunicado" from the Yankees Universe for the rest of his life.

    As for your post, I feel the Yankees need to upgrade their starting rotation before October. Somehow, I don't think we've heard the last of Michael Fulmer and that's really where I think we eventually get the necessary support. As they say, when it comes to October, good pitching beats good hitting. Right now, the defending champs have the superior rotation.

  2. Rays want a young OF and the Yankees want an ace SP. I could see a Clint Frazier for Chris Archer trade make sense for both teams.

  3. Clint Frazier for Chris Archer trade ain't gona happen. It would take more than Clint! Archer is a good young arm but, I still say Clint has more value to the Yankees than one can see at this moment in time.
    Think as you would, if you were playing 3D Chess. Yankees get an offer for Ells, Brett gets hurt and Hicks is just Hicks (not bad, not that good).
    Damn, we need another outfielder, need I say Clint? Then maybe next year he will be in left field and Estevan will run down the balls hit to CF!

  4. Talking about Arrieta hr/9 going 1 to 1.2... Sevs is at a 1, grays is 1.2, Tanaka a 1.8. It's nitpicking, because any team would benefit from Arrieta, especially if he's had for a reasonable AAV.

    This is most important for the post season, where I still think gray is the odd man out. He hasn't proven shit, and doesn't go deep enough into games. Plenty of time to prove otherwise.

    1. It's not about the number of home runs, it's about the fact he's been trending in the wrong direction for three straight years.

    2. Worth mentioning that Arrieta and all the Yankees pitchers all pitch inside band boxes, and Arrieta's numbers are especially skewed pitching during the day in Wrigley with that wind.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)