The All-Bargain Free Agent Rotation
A week ago, I assembled a pretty decent squad of free agent position players for about $40MM in 2007. This week I'll take a crack at putting together the All-Bargain Rotation, no easy task given the market inflation. Given the nature of free agency, this is going to be a staff of veterans past their prime.
SP1 - Andy Pettitte. The 34 year-old southpaw has righted the ship since July. He's still got good command and gets his Ks. He also keeps the ball on the ground reasonably well. Would $16MM over two years do the trick? And is he interested in any team besides Houston?
SP2 - Randy Wolf. Wolf has to expect a pay cut from this year's $9 million salary. He should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery by next spring, and there's a decent chance he returns to his form from a few years ago. I'd hope to snag him for 2/$12MM, but it could take 3/$21MM.
SP3 - Greg Maddux. I've hopefully got my power lefties in tow, so now it's time to round the rotation out with some groundballing righthanded vets. I like Mad Dog for my #3. Even at 41, he can provide 200-210 innings with an ERA in the low 4s and a good groundball/flyball ratio. Perhaps not the best fit with my defensively challenged infield, but I can only do so much.
SP4 - Woody Williams. Kind of like Greg Maddux but without the grounders. I don't mind adding another 40 year-old to my ancient rotation. Woody is still better than league average. Tomo Ohka would work in this slot as well if he'd come at a better price.
SP5 - Jeff Weaver/Bruce Chen/Jason Johnson. I like the idea of taking three retreads and letting them duke it out for the fifth starter spot. The runner-up can be a long reliever and sixth starter. Though he's been consistently awful until this month, I somehow refuse to believe Weaver is toast. He threw 444 innings of very solid ball for the Dodgers from '04-05. Chen has never had much margin for error, but he was doing something right in 2005. Before this year, Johnson had proven a mid-4 ERA innings muncher with excellent groundball tendencies. Maybe he can be salvaged.
Here's the rotation, with projected salary:
Pettitte - $8MM
Wolf - $7MM
Maddux - $5MM
Williams - $4MM
Weaver/Chen/Johnson - $4MM
There's my motley crew, at around $30MM for the group. It's obviously a high-risk rotation, though that risk is spread out among everyone. For the most part the 1-4 pitchers should at least keep my team in the game.