Free Agent Forecast: The Non-Tendered
Here are three of last night's non-tendered players the Yankees may have their eyes on:
1) DANIEL HUDSON
It's been a tough road for Hudson, who has been with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last three seasons. His tenure there started well. In 2010, he started 11 games and went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA. In 2011, he went 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA. Since then, Hudson has suffered multiple elbow injuries and has barely pitched at all. He has a high upside, but his health issues were clearly enough for the Diamondbacks to allow him to become a free agent. 2011 is his only season to date in which he shouldered the regular load of a starting pitcher.
Remember Jon Lieber? He pitched for the Yankees in 2004, and pitched very well. He had missed the entire 2003 season with shoulder issues, and the Yankees looked at him as a low-risk, high-reward signing. That's exactly what Hudson would be. When healthy, Hudson has proven that he can win in the big leagues. He may be worth the risk in hopes that he will return as an effective starting pitcher in 2015. I think it would be smart to sign Hudson and see what happens.
2) CHRIS GETZ
Chris Getz will certainly garner interest from multiple teams after being non-tendered by the Royals yesterday. He's a 30-year-old utility infielder who will be cheap. He can steal between 15-20 bases, but hits with almost no power (three career home runs) and doesn't get on base much. Despite that, his ability to play both second and third base makes him an interesting utility option, especially for the Yankees who just non-tendered Jayson Nix.
I'm not sure why the Yankees would let Nix go only to sign a guy who is just like him, but I guess it's possible. Getz would be an effective utility guy for the Yankees, who could also be a defensive replacement and a pinch runner. Getz has proven that he can be a .260 hitter and can steal 25 bases, and that's the kind of potential that the Yankees might like to have on their bench. He put up a positive WAR in Kansas City for exactly those reasons. It's very possible that the Yanks could give him a contract, nothing more than $1-2 Million a year. His signing would mean the end of Eduardo Nuñez's time in the Bronx who has always been limited by his defense.
3) JOHN AXFORD
The Cardinals have non-tendered John Axford, who, not long ago, saved 46 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011. He's a hard thrower with decent control, and he also posted a 1.74 ERA in his short stay with St. Louis last season. He has proven that he can set up or close in his career, and although his numbers have declined dramatically since his best years in Milwaukee, his tenure in St. Louis showed some promise.
Of all the guys that were made free agents yesterday, John Axford makes the most sense to sign. He could compete with David Robertson for the closing job, which would result in a good outcome no matter what. Axford has experience in that role that Robertson does not have, and it would give the Yankees an insurance policy if the job turns out to be something Robertson isn't suited for. With Joe Nathan reportedly signing with Detroit, Axford joins Andrew Bailey as the possible closers the Yankees could sign as competition for Robertson in camp…although Bailey will start the season on the disabled list.