If the New York Yankees learned anything last year it was you can never have enough pitching, especially starting pitching. The Yankees rotation looked like a strength heading into 2012, so much so that the Yankees jettisoned A.J. Burnett for next to nothing, sending him to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he pitched well.
Right now, the Yankees appear to have depth once again. Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are back, joining C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and Phil Hughes as rotation possibilities. Michael Pineda is also on track to return sometime in June or July barring any setbacks.
That could be seven starters for five spots. However, Pettitte, Sabathia, and Pineda all spent time on the disabled list. Phil Hughes has a long injury history and Kuroda will be 38-years old this season. Adding some insurance might be a wise move for Brian Cashman and the Yankees. Pettitte will be 41-years-old in June.
There are still a couple of free agents that could make some sense for the Yankees to add depth and insurance if it is needed. Dallas Braden is available and knows how to pitch and although he is coming off a shoulder injury, he could be a valuable asset for the Yankees. He hasn’t pitched since April of 2011 and won’t be expensive and, if he comes back to full strength, could be a piece to the Yankees rotation moving forward in 2014. He also is still relatively low-mileage, accumulating just over 491 Major League innings and will turn 30 this season.
Braden compiled a 3.50 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 2010 and tossed five complete games, including a perfect game with the Oakland Athletics. He is a battler on the mound and gets by with knowledge of hitters more than on stuff. And relies on ground balls to get by. His strikeout totals aren’t very sexy but he gets the job done and could be a valuable addition to the middle of any rotation. He would be a value for any team willing to offer him a contract.
Adding Braden is a risk but for a team with depth in the rotation it could be a low-risk, high-reward deal. The Yankees should roll the dice on Braden. Worst case scenario is he doesn’t fully recover or the Yankees don’t need him and flip him for something they do need.