Last Thursday I took a look at the available free agent starting pitchers not named Cliff Lee or Andy Pettitte and boiled it down to four viable alternatives for the Yankees in the event of Lee singing elsewhere and/or Pettitte retiring. Less than a week later, half of those pitchers have already signed with other teams. Worse yet, the two pitchers who signed were the top two in my ranking of the four. Hiroki Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers for just one year and $12 million. Jake Westbrook re-signed with the Cardinals for two years and $16.5 million with an $8.5 million mutual option for 2013. Both deals are extremely reasonable, making the signings all the more painful for the other teams around the league looking for starting pitching help.
The Plan-B list now looks like this:
1. Jon Garland
2. Jorge De La Rosa
Neither option is interesting to me. Garland would get smacked around in the AL East, and the upper limit for him would be to provide a league average inning eating season. De La Rosa has plenty of talent, but has not actually pieced it all together. His high walk rates, ERA that has never been below 4, and type A status make him a poor fit as well.
Quite frankly, the Yankees need both Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte if they want to improve their rotation via free agency this offseason. Alternatively, they can pursue a trade, but the cost would likely be high for the sort of pitcher that would fill a slot at the top of the rotation. Unless the Yankees are ready to hand two rotation spots to players like Ivan Nova, they need to be proactive in terms of securing both left-handers for the 2011 season.