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  • Derek McAdam

Yankees Cannot Afford to Miss Out on This Position

By Derek McAdam

January 10, 2024

***

The New York Yankees started the off-season with a couple of big moves to the roster. The first move involved bringing over Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox for three pitchers. While this was a nice trade that the Yankees made for a one-year rental in left field, the blockbuster trade for Juan Soto came just a few days later, resulting in five players heading to San Diego. The bad news for the Yankees is that four of these players are pitchers, including Michael King, who made a few starts at the end of the 2023 season in hopes of securing a starting rotation spot for 2024.


Following a season in which the Yankees were in the bottom tier of several offensive categories, Brian Cashman has attempted to shake the team up in that regard. However, it seems to be coming at a price: the team’s pitching has taken a hit. And it’s not to say that the Yankees cannot fix this problem, but they’ll have to look to either the free agency market or for a trade.


Looking at the starting rotation, the Yankees only have one “promising” pitcher in Gerrit Cole. I use the quotes because anything can happen in this game. However, Cole has given the Yankees four good seasons, and I don’t expect him to slow down this year. But the rest of the rotation is where things get dicey. Carlos Rodon is signed as a No. 2 starter in the rotation, yet the Yankees were considered lucky to even get a few starts out of him last season. Rodon’s history shows that he is an injury-prone player who just so happened to have two solid season in San Francisco prior to the Yankees signing him. The Yankees simply cannot rely on him going into the season.


Nestor Cortes Jr. is another starter that will be looking for a healthier 2024 season. And yes, Cortes has tremendous upside to his game. However, similarly to Rodon, he was constantly injured throughout the 2023 season, which may have caused his ERA to double from 2022. If he is healthy going into 2024, it may be a good sign for both the Yankees and Cortes. But we’ll just have to wait and see how this transpires.


Clarke Schmidt also had some very good moments for the Yankees in 2023, but also had some downfalls. Last year, it seemed as if Schmidt was the No. 2 starter in the rotation due to all the injuries, but he is more of a bottom-of-the-rotation starter, at least at this point in his career. And by no means is that an insult to Schmidt, because all teams need No. 4 and No. 5 starters. If he continues to develop, he will naturally work his way up the ladder.


Cashman’s first off-season signing was actually a starting pitcher, although it was not a blockbuster name such as Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Cody Poteet seems to be the No. 5 guy in the rotation, as of right now, but he is another player that cannot be trusted due to past injuries. After all, he’s coming off Tommy John surgery, so his status remains a mystery.


This is exactly why the Yankees cannot sit around and watch starters go elsewhere, whether it be via free agency or trades. If the Yankees’ rotation lives up to its expectations, it could be very solid. But that’s entirely hypothetical. That would assume that all those players can remain healthy and actually contribute at their fullest potential. It’s too much of a gamble for the Yankees to take.


So how can the Yankees figure out this problem? Insiders say that the Yankees are definitely interested in bringing in Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease, who came in second in Cy Young Award voting in 2022. Cease is not set to become a free agent until after the 2025 season, so it will take a few prospects in order to secure his services. While it doesn’t seem as if the Yankees are afraid to dish out the prospects for him, Cease may be a gamble, given that he only had one solid season.


Cashman could also turn to the free agency market, as there are still several names linked to the Yankees, including Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and Marcus Stroman. I find it very unlikely that Montgomery comes back to the Yankees, especially if the Texas Rangers are close in negotiations, so we’ll take him out of the conversation. That leaves Snell and Stroman, although there are still other pitchers available.


Let’s start with Snell, who is coming off a Cy Young Award season. Down the stretch of 2023, Snell was the best pitcher in baseball. He finished the season strong and set himself up for a nice payday. But here are a couple of my concerns with Snell.


While Snell pitched 180 innings last season, he hadn’t managed to do that since 2018, when he won his other Cy Young Award with Tampa Bay. Injuries have plagued him over the years, and this is something that the Yankees simply cannot afford more of. Snell also has a tendency to walk many batters, and while he is able to get out of trouble most of the time, there is only one major concern that comes along with this. Snell has a career 5.77 ERA in 12 starts at Yankee Stadium, so the high walk rate scares me for that reason.


Plus, how much will it take to secure Snell? I’ve seen upwards of $200 million, which is a lot for a player that just turned 31-years old last month. However, could the Yankees maybe get him for six years? It’s possible, but I’m sure he’ll want to secure the years with a longer deal.


There’s also Stroman, who opted out of his final season with the Chicago Cubs to become a free agent. Stroman’s 2023 season is almost the exact opposite of Snell’s, given that Stroman got off to a very nice start, but then injuries slowed him down and put a damper on the remainder of the season, particularly after the All-Star Break. But it was still enough for Stroman to opt out and test the market.


According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who initially reported that the Yankees were not showing interest in the 32-year old pitcher, New York now has mutual interest in acquiring the right-hander. Stroman’s contract will likely cost much less than Snell’s, but is this a risk the Yankees want to take? His ERA has steadily increased over the previous three seasons, and he will be 33 in just a few months. Plus, Stroman has previously been critical of the Yankees on social media. While it currently seems as if the Yankee organization is willing to look past that, whether the Yankees offer him a contract or not will indicate if the Yankees are over those comments.


If I had to pick between these three pitchers, I think the best bet would be Cease. They say the best ability is availability, and that’s exactly what Cease offers. He’s been healthy throughout his entire MLB career, and the Yankees desperately need someone like Cole who is rarely injured. Yes, it will take some prospects to acquire him, but it’s not as if the Yankees have been pumping out great prospects over the past 10 years.


While I don’t think it happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees end up landing two of these three pitchers, which would likely consist of Cease and either Snell or Stroman. Cashman seems afraid that Cease ends up in the AL East with Baltimore, which would be a tremendous addition to their rotation. So, he may end up working aggressively to try and get this deal sooner rather than later.


As I mentioned earlier, there are still plenty of pitching options that the Yankees have in free agency.


Do you think the Yankees will be able to acquire one of these three pitchers, or will they have to look elsewhere?

6 Comments


Alan B.
Alan B.
Jan 10

Cease and Burnes would cost way too much prospect capital, and considering the Yankees overpaid for both Soto & Verdugo....

Before anyone goes off on me, name another team that could compete with the Yankees package that was given to San Diego for Soto? I don't see it. Fitts plus 2 arms I thought was a bit too high for a guy that Cora wanted or needed gone.


I'm fine with any of the three, Bauer/Clevinger/Beiber coming here. In my way of thinking, you gotta have at least 2 guys that have at least 32 under their column of GS. I have that in Schmidt & Cole. Further my main 5 gotta have a total of 150 under their GS…


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fuster
Jan 10
Replying to

not low


is not equivalent


to way too much


~~~~~~~`


Burnes' trade value is brought down by the fact that there is only a single season of team control avaiiable in trade.


Soto was obtained at far other than way too much because of impending free agency

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