It’s that time of year again. It’s the time when rumors begin to swirl. It’s the time when the Yankees are linked to every free agent. It’s the time when available relief pitchers send edible arrangements to curly-hair team presidents.

Best of all, it’s the time of the year when we bring the ruckus and lay out our battleplan for the Yankees’ upcoming season. So without further delay, we present what’s become a tradition like no other: The NoMaas Offseason Recommendations.

Everyone and their mother knows that the Yankees’ biggest priority this offseason is the starting rotation. Actually, this feels like an annual event. For all the resources the Yankees possess, the starting rotation always seems to be an issue.

To be fair though, the Yankees had one of the better starting rotations in the AL this past season — ranking 3rd in xFIP (3.84), 7th in FIP (3.97), 4th in WAR (16.7), and 5th in ERA (4.03). These results surprised everyone, including us, because much of it had to do with the scrapheap signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, which worked out shockingly well.

The Yankees now enter this offseason with the same humongous rotation questions as the last. Assuming that Sabathia stays in New York, it’s yet again an issue of who mans the fort behind the portly ace. Bartolo and Garcia are free agents, and the Yankees are fresh out of pixie dust. No one knows what Phil Hughes will offer at this point, in terms of both performance and health. Burnett is…well, at least he’s not John Lackey. Ivan Nova will only be entering his second full season, and Hector Noesi unnecessarily rotted away as the long man in the bullpen.

As is stands, the rotation looks like this (assuming CC returns):

Sabathia
Nova
Hughes
Burnett
??????

Finding back of the rotation arms will not a problem for the Yankees. There’s a bunch of them already at AAA, and assuming that Noesi wasn’t totally messed up, he could fill that spot too. However, considering the uncertainty with everyone not named CC, it’s clear the Yankees need solid middle-to-upper rotation starters.

And this is where our offseason blueprint begins…

NoMaas Offseason Idea #1: Sign Edwin Jackson

Over the last 3 seasons, Edwin Jackson has accumulated 11.2 wins above replacement. That’s 19th-best among all MLB starters over that time span — a better mark than pitchers such as James Shields, Mark Buerhle, Yovani Gollardo, John Danks, Ricky Nolasco, and Chad Billingsley. Jackson has been a very valuable pitcher.

The knock on EJax is that he’s basically Electric Stuff Jr. — a pitcher with very good stuff, but can frustrate with the occasional blow-up start. So what though? It’s what he does over the course of full seasons that matters, and he’s proven to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. There’s plenty of reasons why we like him:

*He’s young*

Jackson will only be 28 entering the 2012 season. He’s in the early prime of his career.

*He logs major innings*

Since 2009, he’s thrown 622 innings — 17th-most among all MLB starters.

*He’s clearly improving with experience*

Since his days with Tampa Bay, he’s shown tremendous improvement. Over the last three seasons, he’s posted a 3.96 ERA / 3.91 FIP / 3.93 xFIP. And over the last 2 seasons, his FIP/xFIP has been even better — 3.71 FIP, 3.72 xFIP

*Good strikeout and groundball rates*

2009-2011: 7.09 K/9, 44% groundball rate
2010-2011: 7.26 K/9, 46.6% groundball rate

*No draft pick compensation and reasonable contract terms*

Jackson is currently estimated to be a Type B free agent, which means the Yankees won’t have to give up a draft pick.

In regards to his contract terms, we don’t have much of a clue, but we could see him being a nice value signing. He is a Boras client, but he’s bounced around to several different teams and had a lousy postseason with the Cardinals, if negotiations take that kind of thing into consideration. Boras was actually on record during the World Series saying that “postseason value” is important when determining a contract. So eat that, Scott.

* In summary *

Jackson is a pitcher who’s proven to be a valuable middle-of-the-rotation arm over the last few seasons. He’s only 28 years old, is improving, wouldn’t cost a draft pick, and should be accessible on reasonable contract terms. He’s outperformed several bigger name pitchers, including popular fan target, Mark Buehrle (for the record, we’re not opposed to Buerhle — we like Jackson more).

We’re onboard the EJax train.


Brian Cashman reviewing our first proposal