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  • E.J. Fagan

Plan B for a Yankees Without Yamamoto

by EJ Fagan

December 22, 2023


Note - This article comes from EJ's Substack page. Please take a look here:


Yoshinobu Yamamoto is going to be a Dodger. At $325 million, Yamamoto could be either the best contract in baseball or the worst one. I wish he were a Yankee, but that’s a steep price. Maybe the team is better off without him.

Regardless, the Yankees badly need a starting pitcher. Probably two. What are their options? I’m going to ignore the Frankie Montas-type options for now. The Yankees might sign a depth guy, but either way they need someone who can soak up some innings.

Option #1: Jordan Montgomery

The Yankees definitely lost the Harrison Bader trade. Montgomery was a borderline ace in 2023, pitching 188 innings with a 3.20 ERA, plus he was excellent in the post season.

He’s going to get paid a lot of money. In a world where Yamamoto is worth $325 million, I have to imagine that Montgomery will be worth at least half that with a similar AAV.

The problem is that I’m still not convinced that’s he’s all that good. Montgomery’s xERA has stayed steady around 4.00 during most of his career. Even during his incredible 2023 season, his Statcast page doesn’t exactly inspire confidence:

I’d love to have Montgomrey back on reasonable contract, like 6/140, but I think he’s likely to be much more expensive.

Option #2: Blake Snell

No thanks, unless the bottom falls out of his market. Snell is a time bomb waiting to happen.

Option #3: Shota Imanaga

Maybe! Imanaga doesn’t quite have Yamamoto’s record in Japan, but he’s got pretty impressive stats. Eno Sarris rated his stuff above Yamamoto during the WBC. He has a ton of movement on his fastball, pinpoint control and the typical Japanese ace splitter. There’s a lot to like here.

I have no idea how much money Imanaga is going to command. He’s 30. He’s not as good as Yamamoto, or even Kodai Senga. I have to imagine that he’ll beat Senga’s 5/$75 million, but by how much? I’d give him a $100 million contract, but definitely not a $150 million one.

Of all the options, I think Imanaga is most likely. He’s less costly than Snell and has a higher ceiling than Montgomery. The Yankees have been connected to him.

Option #4: Corbin Burnes

Burnes is such a Yankee starting pitcher. He engineered himself from a mediocre prospect into a true ace with crazy spin rates. He’s a big, strong dude at 6”3 246 lb. Just look at his incredible Statcast page:

Burnes isn’t quite the Juan Soto of the pitching market, but he’s not far off either. He’ll be a free agent after the season. Milwaukee isn’t going to win a lot of games in 2024. What could the Yankees offer them for Burnes? Do the Yankees have enough left in the farm system?

It will be tough. The Yankees can’t really trade any more upper level pitchers like Hampton, Schmidt or Warren. They’ll have to interest the Brewers in guys like Roderick Arias, Agustin Ramirez, or Brano Mayea. Maybe they’ll take a look at Oswald Peraza with Willy Adames also on his way toward free agency.

The Brewers might also want to try one more run at it in 2024. They could always trade Burnes, Adames and Peralta at the deadline.

Option #5: Dylan Cease

Burnes and Cease are almost direct opposites. Cease is coming off a down year. He’s under team control for three more seasons. My guess is that Cease’s three years trump his poor 2023 season when it comes to trade value. He wasn’t that bad in 2023; his xERA was 4.13 on an awful and dysfunctional White Sox team, and Cease has a strong track record of good health. We’re still talking about a player who was 2nd in Cy Young voting just a year ago.

The real question is what could the Yankees offer that would entice Chicago to trade their ace. I have hard time imagining a package that they could offer. I think it would be fair of the White Sox to ask for Jasson Dominguez. They might be interested in Oswald Peraza, but I’m not sure that a package centered on Peraza gets this deal done. The Yankees may have traded away too much upper level depth to field a competitive package for Cease. The White Sox need MLB players, not promising Single-A prospects.

Option #6: No One

There is no perfect option on this list. Short of someone steal of a deal materializing, the Yankees might not be able to find a real Plan B for Yamamoto on this year’s market. What if, instead, they decided to try and improve their team elsewhere. Sign a Frankie Montas-type or two. Bring in Yariel Rodriguez or some other relief pitcher. Maybe spend a little extra on a right-handed bench bat. Wait until the trade deadline.

I’m not thrilled about it. The Yankees would be relying heavily on Cortes and Rodon to bounce back, as well as the Montas-type to at least eat some innings. They would need Will Warren to be a major league starter, and maybe a Chase Hampton to help out. The potential for a real disaster on the pitching side would be out there. We would all start to compare the 2024 Yankees pitching staff to the incomplete and unbalanced 2023 Yankees hitting group.

It sure feels like the Yankees are going to have to overpay for someone, either in a trade or free agency. I wonder who the names are that we haven’t considered. Yu Darvish? Freddy Peralta? Jesus Luzardo? Edward Cabrera?

I think it’s going to be an active Christmas week for Brian Cashman.


Madden Wayne
Madden Wayne
May 30

One of those one-season players has already been purchased by the Yankees. It would be best to wait for Burnes' free agency. basket random


Alan B.
Alan B.
Dec 23, 2023

Agree on Snell.

New GM Getz and his new brain trust will be asking a lot for Cease. I already rebuilt the Padres pitching staff with the Soto trade. Any Cease deal will start with asks of Hampton, Rice, Warren, Cabrera, & Pereira. Dominguez and Wells, to me are non starters. I don't know much about the White Sox farm system, but I am reluctant to give up Hampton, but will put in Beeter. I'm already including Warren, but not both Of Hampton & Beeter.

As for Burnes, again, think Warren, Rice, Peraza, or any other number of infielders, from the entire proposed AAA infield down to scheduled Tampa infielders Delgado & Arias.

With the multiple prospects that any trade…


Dec 22, 2023

Burnes is going to be too expensive in prospects for a one-season rental


the Yankees already bought themselves one of those one-season guys.

they should wait on Burnes' free agency.

Snell fersure aint a good long-term bet, but on a short deal he's a pretty fair fit.

Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

Seems like Snell will get paid bit $$ now that Yamamoto is riding mountain bikes with Ohtani at Angels Point park. Most pitching contract projections completely whiffed on Yamamoto, who coincidentally just set the market.

Snell is probably going to get at least 7-years now and he'll likely break $200 million. His StatCast numbers suggest EJ's opinion is a bit off base. That said, is he worth $200 mil+?

I'm starting to wonder about Imaga based on EJ's take above. Don't know that much about him. Blog posted that sources projected him to be back part of the rotation type. Signing him and Monty would be fine with me. But I'd rather have Snell and Monty both.

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