Wednesday Morning Food For Thought: A Plan For Esmil Rogers?

Rogers vs TOR You know what move still doesn't make a lot of sense to me?  The decision to re-sign Esmil Rogers.  It was one of the first signings made by the Yankees this offseason, well before new deals were worked out with the rest of their arbitration-eligible players.  Rogers wasn't anything special in his time with the Yanks last year (4.68/4.17/4.05 in 25.0 IP), has been even less special in his 421-inning Major League career, and seemed a sure bet to be quickly and unceremoniously cut whenever the rest of the pitching staff was filled out with better players.

That filling out has happened, in the bullpen at least, and yet here Rogers remains.  Not only has he held his position on the 40-man from the end of last season, he may have improved that position with what he's done this offseason.  Rogers worked as a starter in winter leagues, and Billy Eppler recently confirmed that he will be coming to camp as a starter along with Adam Warren.  We know what the issues are with the current projected rotation.  Do the Yankees know something we don't about Rogers?

Look at all the circumstantial evidence.  The early decision to re-sign him when the team knew it had a ton of other more important roster holes to fill.  The directive to Rogers to continue to work as a starter through the offseason.  The 21.7% K rate in pinstripes that was above his previous career average.  The unpredictable drop in GB rate from a high 40s career average to 37.5% with the Yanks.  The mid-90s fastball.  The 5-inning, 1-run spot start against Cleveland in August.  Those pieces seem like they can be put together to possibly form another decent starting option.

And Larry Rothschild could be the man to do it.  If we're going to talk about the idea of him working to bring out more from Nathan Eovaldi's stuff, why can't we talk about that same idea with Rogers?  Is it that farfetched?  Rothschild had as good a look as anybody at Rogers when he joined the team last year.  Maybe he saw something that he thinks he can tweak to make Rogers a more effective pitcher.  How effective?  Who knows?  But for 750k guaranteed it's worth the risk.

At best, Rogers pitches well enough in camp to settle into a David Phelps or Chase Whitley-like swingman role and helps the Major League club with some fill-in starts and low-leverage long relief work.  At worst, he sucks like he did with Toronto and the Yanks DFA him and replace him with one of their younger arms.  Either way I know I'll be paying a little closer to attention to him once Spring Training starts, if for no other reason than to try and figure out what the Yankees see in him.