Now that Andy Pettitte has officially retired, the Yanks can kick their fifth starter pursuit up a notch – and the Sox can breathe a bit easier.
After signing Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia to minor league contracts, New York has a few extra options to compete with Sergio Mitre for the fifth slot.
Bartolo Colon shouldn’t be much cause for concern around the rest of the division. Though he did earn a few major accolades earlier in his career, he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the MLB since ’09 and hasn’t been effective since the 2005 season. If he does find a way to pitch effectively, it will surely surprise everyone. But hey, competition is competition.
Freddy Garcia, on the other hand, is an interesting name. The King of the Comeback, every year it seems as if Garcia’s career is over — only for him to rise from the ashes to mediocrity and mild relevancy. This year could be another one of those years and, given how surprisingly good he was last year (157.0 IP, 4.64 ERA/4.59 xFIP), he could actually be the Yankees’ fifth best starter — and a league average one at that.
We’ve got him posting a 4.67 expected ERA this season (adjusted for the AL East bats), which would place him well above Mitre in the fifth starter chase. However, the Yanks look to have room for only one on the active roster, and Spring Training or the stipulations of their respective deals might dictate who gets the slot. If one or the other has a minor league option or Opening Day opt-out clause, that could very well dictate who gets the slot.
Then again, both players are injury prone, so their agents may decide the best course of action is to wait it out in the minors until a slot inevitably opens.
Only time will tell.
Other than the in-house options, pundits have been throwing around the idea of a possible trade. One of the more popular names has been Joe Blanton, who has been lost in the shuffle among Philadelphia’s rotation of future Hall of Famers.
Blanton would be a nice fit for any team, especially one with championship aspirations in need of a fifth starter. At the number five slot, he would provide very good production — his expected ERA last season was a 3.98.
Much of the bump up in his expected ERA comes from an uncharacteristically high 32.0 O-Swing percentage. If that number falls to his previous levels of production, his expected ERA would have fallen closer to 4.40, which is a more reasonable expectation for the hurler.
Assuming that is his true performance level, Blanton doesn’t seem to be much of an upgrade over Garcia at number five — especially considering the league and division switch. Taking that into account, it seems like the right move that the Yankees will take the wait-and-see approach on their in-house options.