(How will The Garbage Man fit into the 2012 rotation plans?)
Freddy Garcia was an absolute steal for the Yankees in 2011. Considering the fact that he was brought in on a non-guaranteed deal and was really only supposed to be a placeholder for one of the young arms in Triple-A and the Yankees ended up getting 146.2 IP of 3.62/4.12/4.36 ball out of him, you could make the argument that Freddy was their best addition last year. That being said, I think it was still a bit of a surprise to most of us that the Yankees re-signed him this early in the offseason. As I stated last week, I pictured Freddy as more of a last resort for the Yanks again if they weren't able to land any of the bigger FA pitchers. So Freddy being back in the fold already has to mean one of 3 things.
1) The Yankees Are Confident With the 5 Guys They Have
Freddy being back gives the Yankees a complete 5-man rotation right now with him, CC, Nova, A.J., and Phil. And with the strides that Nova made last year, the confidence the team already has that Phil will rebound in 2012 thanks to the extra laps he's running at the fat farm in Cali, and CC being CC, perhaps the feeling is that they can win again with that rotation and the rest of the roster around them. Freddy is certainly no slouch to have at the back of the rotation, and with the previously-mentioned stockpile of young ammunition at Triple-A, the Yankees are well covered in case injuries or poor production hinder one of these 5.
2) The Yankees Don't Like Any of the Big Free Agent Pitchers Available
Myself, along with everybody else in the blogosphere, has spent time analyzing the bigger name pitchers available this offseason. And while they each come with their own set of strengths and potential bonuses they bring to the table, there are various risks associated with all of them, be it performance-related, injury-related, or transitioning to the AL East-related. If nobody out there stands out as a sure thing in the eyes of the front office, perhaps they will decide it's not worth the extra money and years it will take to sign one of them. Instead, they can just go low-risk on a guy who just proved he could get it done in New York and continue to bide their time until guys like ManBan and Betances are ready.
3) The Yankees Are Looking to Make a Trade
It certainly wouldn't be the first time that Cash has flown under the radar during Hot Stove season, and there are some potential trade targets out there that could be more attractive than throwing big money at a C.J. Wilson or a Yu Darvish. It won't be the Josh Johnson or Felix Hernandez blockbuster that some fans out there are still clamoring for, but guys like John Danks, Jair Jurrjens, and Gio Gonzalez could probably be had for way less than it would take to get Johnson or King Felix. And with the continued struggles of A.J. and Phil, maybe the front office has grown tired of waiting for them and are looking to see what teams, if any, are interested in including one of them in a deal. If that's the case, Freddy is essentially replacing them in the rotation and leaving a spot open for a new guy.
I'm tending to lean more towards the #2 and #3 scenarios described above. I can't see the Yankees holding pat with the staff they currently have after they were adamant in saying their goal this offseason was to improve the rotation. And while bringing Freddy back is a part of that, I just can't see any way that he's the only part, especially considering the possibility that he doesn't repeat his solid 2011 campaign. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees operate over the next couple of weeks. That should shed some light on what they're trying to do and how re-signing Freddy fits into those plans.