According to Ed Price, the Yankees have placed Chad Gaudin on waivers. This means that another club could claim him and take on his entire 3M dollar salary, he could clear waivers and go to AAA, or he could clear and reject the assignment and become a free agent. This move comes after Gaudin moved to 0-3 with an 8.38 ERA on the spring, while his primary competition for a roster spot, Sergio Mitre, continued to impress. However, Gaudin pitched just 9.1 innings, and Mike Axisa at RAB wonders, did the Yankees make this decision based on a tiny sample size?:
In over 460 career innings in the American League, Gaudin has been the definition of league average. His 4.25 ERA equals a 101 ERA+, his .271 batting average against isn’t much worse than the .265-ish league average (basically one extra hit every 142 at-bats), and his 6.5 K/9 is right around the 6.8-ish average as well (one fewer strikeout every 30 IP). His walk rate (4.2 BB/9) is definitely high (~3.4 league average), but he mitigates it somewhat with a strong groundball rate (43.7%). There’s nothing sexy about league average, but it’s very valuable in the role he’s expected to fill.
Mitre, on the other hand, has never been league average at much of anything, even before having Tommy John surgery. Even in his best season (2007), he put up a 4.65 ERA (93 ERA+) and a 4.8 K/9, both below average by any measure. And that came in the NL, in a pitcher’s park. His groundball rate (59.7% career) is spectacular, but missing bats and avoiding contact is the name of the game in the AL East. Oh, and Gaudin’s more than two full years younger.
On the face of it, this seems to be a poor decision based on spring training stats. However, as Mike touched upon earlier in his post and a number of readers on Twitter noted, this may be the best way for the Yankees to keep all of their pitching depth in the organization. If they had waived Mitre, his low salary and strong spring performance make it likely that he would have been picked up by another team. Conversely, Gaudin costs 3 million dollars and has had a poor spring, such that there is a reasonable chance that he makes it through waivers and is available to the Yankees should they need him later in the season. Considering that the role that they are fighting for on the Opening Day Roster is that of mop-up reliever, it is not a huge deal if the lesser pitcher makes the club. While it seems counterintuitive, the Yankees probably made the right move.