Shortly after I put up yesterday afternoon's post examining the Yankees' potential free agent pitching acquisitions, news broke on two of them. Rich Harden has apparently agreed to terms with the Rangers on a one-year, $7.5 million deal (with an $11.5 million option) pending a physical.
This initially feels like a bit of an overpay, as the pervading thought seemed to be that Harden, Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer could be had for around $5 million each, but then again it's not like there was ever only going to be one team in on their services, so it will obviously require some outbidding to land these guys. Plus, even in a down, injury-curtailed year FanGraphs has Harden valued at $8.2 million last year (and $20 (!) million in 2008), so perhaps the Rangers do know what they're doing.
It was also announced that Ben Sheets is looking for around $12 million, also known as similar to the money he made in his last full season in 2008. Now Sheets has been a very good to elite pitcher during his career, and he did have an excellent 2008 even though his elbow prevented him from pitching in the playoffs, posting an FIP of 3.38 in 31 starts. According to FanGraphs, Sheets was worth 4.4 WAR and $20 million in 2008. Of course, Sheets did not throw a single pitch in 2009, and even with a track record as good as he has, it seems highly unlikely that anyone is going to gamble $12 million on a return to form.
The Yankees were linked to Sheets last winter and many in the fanbase were urging the team to sign him. Sheets wound up agreeing to terms with the Rangers, only to have that deal tabled when the team discovered the pitcher had a torn flexor tendon that would sideline him for the season. So far this winter has played out similar to last year, with both the Yankees and Rangers being linked to Sheets, and the Yankee fanbase once again urging the team to take a flier on the righty.
Assuming Sheets can be had for approximately $8 to $10 million, whichever team does end up signing him is going to be able to slot a guy into their rotation with a career 3.56 FIP and the potential to be a #1 starter for a relatively small amount of money and years. Come to think of it, maybe Sheets is worth $12 million a year.
And lastly in Yankee news, the team plans to take Dodgers' outfielder Jamie Hoffman with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft today. Hoffman will likely be organizational filler, but he did OPS .856 between double and triple A last year, so maybe he sees time as a backup outfielder on the big club at some point.