The Garcia deal always seemed a bit strange to me. Even putting aside the fact that I don’t anticipate Garcia being as good in 2012 as he was in 2011, the team moved awfully quickly to get a deal in place. We first heard that the Yankees and Garcia had an agreement over the Thanksgiving holiday, before the Winter Meetings even took place. Even if you wanted Garcia back, why the rush? It hardly seems likely that such speed was of the utmost necessity given the state of the market and, if you anticipated the possibility of other additions to the starting rotation, it wouldn’t have been hard to see Sweaty Freddy getting crowded out. The signing of Hiroki Kuroda alone would have required the removal of one of Garcia, Burnett, or Hughes from the rotation.
The decision to hastily give Garcia $4 million reminds me very much of another of Brian Cashman’s more recent ill-fated decisions. On December 18, 2009, the Yankees agreed to terms with free agent Nick Johnson to be the team’s DH for a one year cost of $5.5 million. Though I didn’t hate the move at the time, it did seem a bit odd that the Yankees were jumping the DH market so hard and so quickly, especially for Johnson, of all people. Nick the Stick had hit .291/.426/.405 in 574 plate appearances between Washington and Florida in 2009, butof course he an extensive injury history, and had managed to get only 147 plate appearances in 2008. He certainly didn’t seem like the kind of free agent you leap at the chance to throw $5 million at so soon, and the decision looked even worse on January 26, 2010, when the Twins signed Jim Thome for just $1.5 million. Thome went on to hit .283/.412/.627 in 340 plate appearances in 2010 while Johnson struggled to a .167/.388/.308 slashline before hitting the disabled list for good with a wrist injury after just 98 plate appearances.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that Garcia will wind up being as bad a signing as Johnson proved to be, or even that there were better options that could have been had at a lower price later, but it is worth asking what it is about Freddy that made the front office so impatient to get a deal done.