Andy Pettitte is a free agent once again. It’s retirement or another year on the mound for the veteran lefty. The Yankees need him to play one more year.
Currently, the Yankees have three pitchers penciled into their five-man starting rotation for next season; CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Phill Hughes.
Cliff Lee is the biggest name on this years free agent market and the Yankees will go after him hard. After Lee, there are no other ace type starters available. Pettitte is the next best. The Yankees would love have Pettitte return while also landing Lee.
The reality is that Pettitte very well may call it a career. In fact, it sounds as if right now, he is leaning toward retirement.
“I’m just going to wait and see what my heart wants me to do,” Pettitte said. “Right now, I can tell you my heart’s right here in Deer Park, (Texas). If something happens and I play one more year, that would be it. It would be one more year and that would be it.”
If Pettitte does not return and the Yankees are unable to convince Lee to sign with them, GM Brian Cashman may need to work some magic. According to reports, the Yankees are interested in Jorge De La Rosa. The question is, just how much with De La Rosa bring?
Pettitte went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA last season, one in which the Yankees had starting pitching question marks throughout. Pettitte was the constant, along with Sabathia.
We have all heard this before, a few times. Pettitte has gone home after a season claiming to be strongly considering retirement, only to come back for another year. At some point, the strong consideration will become a firm decision. This is just not the ideal year for that to happen to the Yankees.
Cashman and the Yankees have been reluctant to trade away prospects or major league talent of late. Without Lee and/or Pettitte, they may need to consider that as an option. The Yankees minor league system is greatly improved from what it was just a couple years ago. Trade pieces are there.
In fact, just last season the Yankees almost traded away top prospect Jesus Montero in order to get Lee.
If Lee re-signs with Texas or somewhere else, do the Yankees have enough to trade for an ace type starter? Would they consider trading Montero, Austin Romine, Joba Chamberlain, Francisco Cervelli, or Nick Swisher if that’s what it took to acquire a pitcher like Feliz Hernandez or Josh Johnson?
If Pettitte does return or Lee signs, the Yankees will have four starters. If both players come to the Yankees, the team will have a very solid rotation.
The Yankees need at least one of these pitchers. A combination of De La Rosa and someone like Jake Westbrook or Jon Garland just won’t get it done. Not with the Yankees having to trust A.J. Burnett next season.
The Yankees could also try to stay in house and give Ivan Nova a shot at the rotation. Nova pitched for the Yankees toward the end of last season and was up and down. At times he looked capable of being in a major league rotation. Nova will need to prove he can go through an opposing team’s lineup three times before being a true consideration.
Andy Pettitte would make the Yankees more comfortable if he does return for one final season. It would also give Yankees fans one last time to give Pettitte the going away season he deserves.
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