Last winter, two of the Yankees most critical offseason signings were minor league contracts with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Two veteran pitchers couldn’t land big league deals, and the Yankees took advantage with no-risk, high-reward signings.
Have we reached the point this winter that similar options are becoming available.
Late last night, the Red Sox agreed to terms on a minor league deal with Aaron Cook, a 32-year-old former National League all-star with steadily declining numbers who’s coming off an injury shortened season. It’s a depth move for the Red Sox, with a chance for Cook to earn $1.5 million if he makes the big league team. It’s a similar deal to the Red Sox minor league agreement with Carlos Silva.
This could be a sign that pitchers are starting to settle, that some borderline back-of-the-rotation types are finding that minor league deals are the best they can do.
The Yankees have been shopping for rotation depth this winter, and if the rotation market is starting to reach this level, they might be able to find some Garcia/Colon-type pitchers available at the right price. At that point, they’d simply have to hope for a Garcia/Colon-type return on their investment.
It’s worth noting, though, that last winter, Colon and Garcia didn’t sign their minor league deals until the very end of January. Colon’s deal came on the 26th, and Garcia’s deal happened on 31st, so we might be waiting a while longer.
One other pitching note: He won’t drop to a minor league level, but Hiroki Kuroda has reportedly decided he will definitely pitch in the U.S. next season. Assuming he would agree to a one-year deal, Kuroda could be a good fit for the Yankees at the right price.