The Off-Season: Pitching In
The Off-Season: Pitching In
By Tim Kabel
November 6, 2021
Yesterday, I finished making my suggestions regarding the construction of the 2022 Yankees’ roster of position players as well as establishing a proposed lineup for next season. I felt like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, bringing Peter Boyle as the creature, to life.
I will now cast my lonely eyes to the topic of pitching. The Yankees could benefit from another solid starting pitcher. As Oliver Twist said, “more, please.” This is an area where the Yankees could certainly turn to free agency. It has been suggested and written in several places that the Yankees are prepared to spend in free agency this year. However, as I have stated a few times, they can’t spend everywhere. A budget is still a budget. Neither the Yankees, nor their fans, can reasonably expect to spend on first base, shortstop, centerfield, catcher, and starting pitching. This isn’t Brewster’s Millions, after all. There is simply not enough money to do that. Free agency should be a slice of the pie, not the whole pie. Trades and promotions from the minors should be used as well. So far, I advocated that the Yankees acquire a first baseman, Matt Olson, and a centerfielder, Cedric Mullins, via trades. The only position I have proposed they fill through free agency so far, is shortstop with Corey Seager. Eventually, I see them filling two infield positions with current minor leaguers, Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe. Starting pitching is the second need they could address through free agency
In 2009, the Yankees added three free agents, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. This season, they could very well add a starting shortstop, possibly Corey Seager, and a starting pitcher. Max Scherzer would be an extremely attractive option but, he is 37 years old and may not want to come to New York. It would certainly be worth the effort to contact him and gauge his interest. A more viable option might be Robbie Ray, who pitched for the Blue Jays this season. He is 30 and is a top contender for the Cy Young Award. He will be 30 throughout all of next season. He is also left-handed. Adding him to the rotation, presumably right behind Gerrit Cole, would upgrade the team immensely. It would also weaken Toronto, which is a major consideration. If the Yankees acquire Ray, the rotation could very well consist of Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon. However, Taillon had surgery which may cause the start of his season to be delayed. Old reliable, Nestor Cortes, Jr., Underdog himself, could certainly fill that spot. It is conceivable that Cortes could be a part of the rotation throughout the season if there are injuries or trades affecting someone who is there currently. Nestor was practically a savior to the Yankees playoff run, brief though it was, in 2021. His ability to pitch either as a starter or a reliever gives him increased value.
Assuming the Yankees do acquire Robbie Ray or perhaps another free agent pitcher, and that Jameson Taillon returns to the rotation fairly early in the season, Nestor could go to the bullpen. He would be joined there by some combination of Albert Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Luis Gil, Chad Green, Clay Holmes, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, Stephen Ridings, and Joely Rodriguez. There may be other bullpen arms that rise up from the minor leagues during the year as often happens. In addition, Brian Cashman has demonstrated an ability to cherry pick somewhat mediocre relievers from other teams who managed to achieve tremendous success with the Yankees. Joely Rodriguez, Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes are the latest examples.
I have proposed a way for the Yankees to restructure their roster for the 2022 season and beyond by using a combination of free agency, trades, and promotions from the minor leagues. If it is true the team is willing to spend on free agency, they can do so as part of a process so that it will not financially cripple the team moving forward. In addition, most of the acquisitions I have suggested would make the team younger, more evenly balanced, and more flexible.
I think the roster I have proposed would be significantly better than the one that ended the 2021 season in the Bronx, well technically in Boston but, you know what I mean. All the moves I’ve suggested are certainly feasible and within the realm of possibility.
Now that I have made my suggestions, let’s see what the team does. Whatever they do, it is obvious that moves need to be made. Otherwise, it is likely that we will be watching two other teams in the World Series again after enduring another long year of our manager blowing bubbles, staring vacantly into space and making tedious excuses for one loss after another.