Yankees Rivals Keep Stealing My Guys...
David Robertson, Kodai Senga, and Masataka Yoshida. Three of my favorite targets are already gone. Let's talk about it...
2023 Deal: 1 Year/$10,000,000 with the New York Mets
David Robertson makes my short list of favorite Yankees that I've had the privilege to watch. That's not a list that requires we evaluate based on positions to create a perfect depth chart or roster. He's one of my favorite Yankees ever. Of course I was going to start shaping my offseason plans with the bullpen around him. He was my sentimental bring-back pick.
Robertson is also coming off of one of the best seasons of his entire career, as a 37-year-old reliever, who pitched less than 20 innings in the MLB between 2019 and 2021. During the 2022 season, however, Robertson pitched 63.2 innings to a 2.40 ERA (172 ERA+) with 20 saves, 81 strikeouts, and a 1.162 WHIP. Across his 14 year career those numbers come out to be his 6th most innings in a season, 4th best ERA (and ERA+), 4th most amount of saves, 6th most strikeouts, and 7th best WHIP. His +2.7 bWAR was his 2nd best in a season (though, Fangraphs gave him just a +0.7 fWAR which was tied for 11th best). While relievers may be volatile, Robertson has the track record to justify going in on him after a season like he had.
For a Yankees team that just went into the playoffs having to use Miguel Castro, getting more arms for the bullpen is a need. They did address this in part by bringing in Tommy Kahnle, but the Yankees have also lost a bunch of arms for 2023 in: Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Scott Effross. They also have Michael King and Kahnle coming off of injuries in 2022. To say there are question marks is an understatement. And that's why I also wanted Robertson.
Personally, in trying to think through what would be the best type of contract for a much older relief pitcher, I was thinking that Robertson would probably appreciate more years at a lower AAV than another 1 year deal. In my mind, I figured a 2-year/$15-16 million contract was likely to start and end negotiations with a deal in place. I never even imagined he'd want a 1 year deal after the past- quite literally- 5 years of uncertainty with him. Credit to David Robertson, though. He seemed all but complete with the MLB even entering this year but he managed to swoop in another solid payday. Add in how he'll be a free agent again next year with another shot to sign with a team that could very much compete for another ring and I understand the mentality.
2023 Deal: 5 Years/$90,000,000 ($18M AAV) with the Boston Red Sox
I previously wrote a lot about Yoshida during "NPB Week" which you can read, here. I'm not going to spoil anything from that post, but it gives a broad overview of his background, stats in the NPB, and my thoughts on if the Yankees should be interested.
At the price of what he got, I'm conflicted. Generally speaking, this means that the Yankees are probably in the right for not offering him the same deal. At an AAV of $18 million I am almost sure that the Yankees could pull a move to get a different outfielder. There are plenty of options out there (who I will be discussing either this week or next) who should be able to be had at a similar value, but not require as long of a contract. I don't want to spoil my thoughts, so I'll tease you all with that now.
However, for Yoshida it's an interesting move. Yoshida is without a doubt one of the better hitting players in the NPB and he has a bat-to-ball ability that should be able to carry over well to the MLB. Heck, if it wasn't supposed to, the Red Sox would not have guaranteed him that much money. However, Yoshida is also seen as a poor defender in many circles. Personally, my jury is still out on him being good or bad (I think it's more average than anything), but seeing how that will play in the AL East with many tough left fields will be interesting. Yoshida also has a pretty deep injury history, so that's another challenge.
Trust me, I wanted Yoshida. A high average, left-handed bat for the Yankees biggest position of need on the team (they quite literally do not have a left fielder for 2023) would've been perfect. Add in that he fills a gaping hole of mine to bring a Japanese star to the Yankees and I'm so annoyed. But, if I have to be subjective, I think it was the right move not chasing him at that price.
2023 Deal: 5 Years/$75,000,000 with the New York Mets
The other major piece- if not the biggest- coming out of Japan this offseason, Kodai Senga was my perfect back-end-of-the-rotation guy to get. Drats that the New York Mets and Steve Cohen have just decided that money is actually growing on the trees and he'll spend whatever to get who he wants.
I also previously wrote about Senga, which you can find here.
Damn. I'm confident Senga is going to be amazing in the MLB. His NPB track record is far too good for him to fail. Add in how he's going to be protected in a rotation with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer and it's hard to see this differently. He has two of the best pitching minds around him of this generation and he's on a team that is willing to do whatever it takes to win. That's a huge recipe for success.
At a rate of $15 million per year, he's also making a great salary. Even as a back-end guy to figure out the MLB this year and then be a comfortable mid-to-high end guy in the years following. (Or at least, that's how I'd go into the season with him.) I'm convinced already he's going to get serious votes for the National League Rookie of the Year.
The Yankees should've pushed harder on this guy. There was no posting fees with Senga (as there were with Yoshida), so there was no hidden couple of million dollars that also needed to be sent to his previous team. (Again, for the total cost of Yoshida- over $100 million including a $15 million posting fee- he has a much harder battle and hill to climb to be worth it.) Truthfully, who is in the Yankees rotation that doesn't have serious question marks for 2023?
Gerrit Cole is great but is overhyped. Nestor Cortes still leaves me with worries that the magic will wear off. Luis Severino is constantly hurt. Frankie Montas was a disaster in 2022...and was also hurt. And who else is there? The market is now very very thin. Carlos Rodon is the best (and almost only) true option left. Are the Yankees going to go get Syndergaard? (Please, no.) Is Chris Bassitt going to be worth his deal? Nathan Eovaldi? And you can see how fast it takes to go away from the good options out there.
Maybe a trade is in order? Man, I wish Jordan Montgomery was still on the team.
Senga's going to be great. The Yankees missed the mark here.