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How Will the Yankees Address Its Starting Pitching Surplus?

How Will the Yankees Address Its Starting Pitching Surplus?

By Derek McAdam

January 6, 2023


One of the New York Yankees’ strongest areas in 2022 was its pitching. The starters, for the most part, were able to give the Yankees good, quality starts, while the bullpen was very solid from top to bottom. Many fans would agree that if it wasn’t for the pitching staff, the Yankees would have struggled for most of 2022 with the lackluster bats seen so frequently.

This off-season, the Yankees lost Jameson Taillon to the Chicago Cubs, where he signed a four-year contract worth just south of $70 million. However, the Yankees rebounded and signed Carlos Rodon to a six-year contract worth $162 million, making him one of the biggest signings of the off-season. The move also allowed Brian Cashman to keep his promise that the Yankees were going to acquire a costly player, regardless of whether or not Aaron Judge re-signed with New York.

However, the Yankees are set to start the season with six starting pitchers: Rodon, Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr., Luis Severino, Frankie Montas and Domingo German. From looking at this list, it seems likely that German is going to be the odd-man out for several reasons. The Yankees are surely not going to trade any of the first four pitchers mentioned, and are unlikely to stick Montas in the bullpen given the amount of prospects and value they gave up to secure him.

So what happens with German?

First, and what will ultimately be the likely scenario, the Yankees will keep him in the bullpen and use him as the “emergency” starter in case of an injury or as an innings-eating reliever. It is highly unlikely that the Yankees decide to put out a six-man rotation to begin the season, so this would be an ideal spot for German. He’ll still be able to get in plenty of games this season and may end up being a staple in the bullpen with the subtraction of several players including Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Chad Green.

Depending on how he does in Spring Training, Aaron Boone may decide that German could be one of the setup men in the bullpen, coming on in the 7th or 8th innings to help prevent further runs. However, this only seems likely if the Yankees deal with injuries in that spot, or if someone in one of those positions takes a major step backwards and needs to be replaced.

Next, German could potentially be traded. In the Yankees’ case, it seems as if trading German is only going to come as a roster dump transaction more than trying to acquire legitimate talent. German is coming off a 2022 season where in 14 starts, pitched to a 3.61 ERA, which is not a terrible number and is better than his 2019 season where he went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA. There are definitely a couple of teams out there who likely see German as a bottom of the rotation starter.

However, German may still have a stigma going around the league regarding MLB’s investigation of suspected domestic violence in 2019. Again, this is to say that there are probably going to be a few teams that have absolutely no interest in German just because of the investigation. Because of this, it might make it tougher for Cashman to complete a trade. I see German being traded as the least likely option to occur.

Lastly, the Yankees could just release him. German has two years of arbitration remaining and is projected to make just over $3 million for the 2023 season. Depending on what the Yankees want to do with the rest of the roster, German may be one of the final candidates to be cut, given that he has no minor league options.

As of now, it seems as if the Yankees have only replaced one of the three relievers that are now free agents, by reuniting with Tommy Kahnle. It’s also worth mentioning that Michael King is questionable to be on the Opening Day roster after fracturing his elbow last July. The Yankees are known for being patient will letting injuries heal, so this may be another example, especially since it’s at the start of the season.

Nonetheless, the Yankees may have some tough choices to make over the next couple of months. Spring Training is now less than two months away (now that we’re in 2023 the countdown begins), which could mean that German is at least safe for another couple of months on the Yankee roster. What his role is on the Yankees, or perhaps another team, will have to be determined over the next few months.

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Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

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