As The Pitching World Turns…
So where can the Yankees turn now that Patrick Corbin is off the books?
I personally believe that the Yankees dodged a bullet by not signing Corbin for that sixth year that he got from the Nationals. Yes, he had a good season last year, but he is just a couple of games over .500 for his career at 56-54 and has enjoyed only had three good seasons in his six years of professional baseball. In addition, Corbin also has failed to put together back to back good seasons and was horrible as recently as 2016 when he was 5-13 with an ERA over five. Add in the addition of the Designated Hitter that makes it even tougher to pitch in the American League and it could easily be said that signing Corbin was a risky endeavor. The Nationals are paying big money and many years for what might end up being just a mediocre talent over the balance of his career.
So where do the Yankees go now? It has been said that the Yankees would like to have their rotation settled before the winter meetings (and that becomes increasingly difficult with every passing day) but let’s look at some options.
1) JA Happ may be the next best thing as far as the free agent market goes. We already know that he can pitch, not only in the American League, but in New York. Because of his age, Happ can probably be acquired on a two-year deal. He has expressed interest in a reunion with the Yankees, and I would think with the way he performed last season, that the Yankees would share that sentiment. Perhaps two years at $40 million and a mutual option for a third year gets it done.
2) Dallas Keuchel could also find his way onto the Yankees’ radar although I haven’t heard many rumors about them actually having a whole lot of interest. To me, Keuchel doesn’t seem like a great fit. He has shown some decline over the past couple of seasons and is more of a finesse pitcher than the hard throwers that seem to front line the Yankees’ rotation. Even with a fastball averaging around 89 mph and a middle of the road strikeout rate, the 2015 CY Young award winner will probably be looking for at least 4 years and 80 million dollars. He has drawn some interest from the Reds and some lukewarm interest from the Blue Jays. Again, he doesn’t seem like a great Yankees fit to me.
3) Nathan Eovaldi and his electric fastball is a good pitcher, but not unlike Corbin, has yet to put together two successful seasons in a row. After two Tommy John surgeries, Eovaldi is entering uncharted territory as to how well he will perform going forward. Some team will definitely roll the dice based on his 2018 performance and will likely overpay to do it. Hopefully the Yankees have learned their lesson on this one and take a pass here as well.
4) Charlie Morton has put together two good seasons in a row but has never thrown more pitches than he has during that span. You have to wonder if decline is inevitable, especially since he is 35 years old. With that being said, if he would take a one or two year deal at a reasonable price the Yankees should give him consideration.
The rest of the free agent crop doesn’t really warrant a breakdown. Although there are some adequate fourth or fifth starters out there, there are probably not any that will tickle Brian Cashman’s fancy. The best of the rest includes Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey, and Anibal Sanchez.
If the Yankees are unable to land a pitcher via free agency, they may look to fill their rotation by making a trade. The Yankees have been in contact with the Indians about Corey Kluber and or Carlos Carrasco. Either of which would make the rotation one of the most formidable in baseball. It is widely believed that the Yankees have at least lukewarm interest in Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi who was just posted today and will begin to negotiate with teams and must be signed by January 8th. Kikuchi is an interesting Idea, but I feel he is more likely to be the next Kei Igawa rather than the next Masahiro Tanaka.
One has to ask the question – By not spending all that money on Corbin do the Yankees now turn to either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or maybe even both (probably not) to give them the offensive edge over the World Champion Red Sox? I keep hearing people say that these players aren’t a great fit. This argument I don’t understand. They are better than anyone on the Yankees right now that could potentially be blocking them. So, I say, spend the money and figure out the rest later. If it were a choice between Harper and Hicks would you really vote to keep Hicks? I have to believe that there are enough at bats to go around even with Hicks and Gardner in the lineup. As for Machado, he’s an easy fit with DIdi Gregorius missing a good portion of the season. Worry about what to do when Gregorius gets back when he gets back.
The Yankees were so budget conservative over the last couple years waiting for this free agent class to hit. Now it’s here! Now is the time to “Get er done!”