C.J. Wilson is in Anaheim, Mark Buehrle is in Miami and Yu Darvish is in Texas. But the Yankees say their offseason priority is bolstering the rotation, so who’s still available on the free agent market, and who might actually be able to play a role next season? These are a few of the options.
The biggest names
Wilson, Buehrle and Darvish are off the market
These are the biggest names available
34 years old
The former Astros ace turns 35 in August, has a bad back and hasn’t pitched more than 139 innings in either of the past two seasons. The results, though, have remained pretty good. He’s had an ERA above 4.00 only once in his career, and as recently as 2010 he led the National League in WHIP. Said to be looking for a one-year deal, but the Yankees don’t seem especially interested.
28 years old
Kind of an erratic career with a lot of ups and downs. He’s coming off a high point, having pitched well down the stretch to help the Cardinals get into the playoffs and eventually win the World Series (though his only World Series start was a seven-walk mess). His age is a plus, but it’s also an indication that he might be looking for a multi-year deal, while the Yankees seem more in the market for a short-term investment.
36 years old
He turns 37 in February, but Kuroda is coming off a season that saw him reach career-highs in wins, innings and strikeouts while pitching to a career-low 3.07 ERA. Thing is, his big league career spans just four years in the National League West. There would be some natural age concerns, as well as questions about his success translating in the AL East, but he’s had success and seems a natural fit for the kind of short-term deal the Yankees would prefer.
When the offseason started, this might have been the third tier
No sure things here, but potential for back-of-the-rotation depth
29 years old
An interesting case because the lefty had a solid 3.66 ERA with the Pirates last season, but his three-year deal came to an end, Pittsburgh chose not to pick up an expensive option year, and the former eighth overall draft pick hit the open market. He had a solid 3.66 ERA last year, and the sinkerballer does a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.
30 years old
Like Maholm, Francis was once one of the better young lefties in the National League. Injuries cost him some time in Colorado, and last year he had a 4.82 ERA in his first American League stint with the Royals. He’s clearly not the pitcher the Rockies were expecting a few years ago, and it’s probably foolish to expect him to suddenly become that kind of pitcher at this point in his career.
33 years old
Last year started as a kind of bounce-back season for Marquis. He had a 3.95 ERA through 20 starts with the Nationals, but he was sent to the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline and made just three starts — with a 9.53 ERA — before a broken shin sent him to the disabled list. Marquis is a New York native.
Two of these are familiar names for the Yankees
Taking this sort of risk paid off big a year ago
38 years old
Although the Yankees got more than they could have expected out of Colon last season, he still missed some time with an injury and saw his result diminish in the second half. Even with a strong season under his belt, there will be obvious concerns about Colon’s durability and ability to repeat that success at this stage of his career. Won’t be as cheap as he was a year ago.
30 years old
Always a tantalizing talent. Always a frustrating health record. In his return to Oakland last season, Harden managed 15 starts with a disappointing 5.12 ERA despite high strikeout totals. He hasn’t topped 100 innings in either of the past two years, he’s topped 100 only twice since 2005, and his recent results haven’t been pretty. But it’s hard to overlook the potential and the “what if” factor. If nothing else, he might be able to slide into an effective relief role.
29 year old
Brought to the Yankees in the 2007 Randy Johnson deal, then shipped out in the 2008 Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade, Ohlendorf had two good years in the Pirates rotation but made just nine starts — with a 9.19 ERA — last season. Rather than go to arbitration, the Pirates let him go. The Yankees are familiar with Ohlendorf, and he could worth a second look if the Yankees believe he’s healthy enough to pitch.
Associated Press photo