Apparently, the Yankees fifth starter isn’t going to be Chad Gaudin. The Yankees officially released the 27-year-old starter on Monday, as Gaudin’s $2.95MM contract wasn’t claimed and he passed through waivers.
Gaudin shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job. He’s clearly a major-league quality pitcher, as he’s posted 4.5 wins above replacement in three seasons and 369.2 innings as a starter and 67 more as a reliever. CHONE has him projected at a 4.58 FIP, which is just above league average. Even after adjusting for his time as a reliever, Gaudin’s projected FIP doesn’t change that much, and he could be worth over 2 wins in 160 innings of starting pitching.
Gaudin was expendable for the Yankees if you assume that one of the Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes duo takes the 5th starting spot. If the Yankees are giving up Gaudin in order to put Sergio Mitre or Dustin Moseley or anybody else on the mound with any sort of regularity, this move is certainly a mistake, as Gaudin is certainly better than the scraps of the Yankees pitching depth. It’s possible that the Yankees are reacting to Gaudin’s awful spring, in which he’s allowed a 8.68 ERA and 16 H in just over 9 innings.
[UPDATE: It looks like Phil Hughes will start the season as the Yankees 5th starter, and Chamberlain will go the bullpen, possibly for the 8th inning role.]
It is shocking that nobody claimed Gaudin’s contract, as he has the potential to be worth more than double his $2.95MM salary. One would think that there would be a fight at the top of the waiver order to claim him, but he somehow slipped through the cracks. Gaudin could be a fit for the Mariners if Cliff Lee is forced to miss time, as, unlike Jarrod Washburn, Gaudin has been in camp the whole spring and could probably step in on opening day. Other contending teams that could have slots for Gaudin include the Dodgers and the Cardinals, but really, there aren’t many teams out there that wouldn’t improve with him on the roster.