One way or another, the New York Yankees must upgrade their starting pitching rotation, especially as they prepare to lose Corey Kluber this off-season. The Yankees have supplemented the position with players coming off injury on cost-efficient deals, which provided some production during the 2021 season, but ultimately traded in consistency and reliability.
With the Yankee struggling to maintain health last year, they might look to players with a better history in that area. However, unless the Steinbrenner’s are willing to open up their checkbook and push past the $210 million luxury tax threshold, general manager Brian Cashman will likely be searching in the used bin.
Let’s take a look at a few starters the Yankees could target, even if some of them represent higher-end options that would provide immediate results.
Three pitchers the Yankees could pursue this offseason:
1.) Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray was phenomenal for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, earning a 2.84 ERA and 13 wins. He also collected a 11.54 strikeouts per nine rate and career-low 2.47 walks per nine. His 90.1% left on-base percentage was also the best in his career, showcasing he has more potential left to untap after providing a 6.62 ERA in 2020.
Given he’s only experienced one year of phenomenal performance since 2017, he might be a bit cheaper than a star pitcher, which could open the door for the Yankees. Given the inconsistencies Ray has experienced throughout his career, this might not be the most efficient strategy for the Bombers. There are a few other free agents on the market that might be cheaper and offer similar value based on averages.
2.) Zack Greinke
The Houston Astros are going to have to make a decision on Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. They will have the opportunity to present the qualifying offer to one of them, and it will likely go to Verlander.
With that being the case, Greinke could be an option for the Yankees at 38-years-old. As a veteran player coming off a big deal, the Yankees might be able to snag him at a discount, given he posted a 4.16 ERA with a 15-year low of 6.32 strikeouts per nine last season.
It is clear that Greinke is falling off a bit due to age, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter on a cheaper contract. The Yankees need players with experience, and his relationship with Gerrit Cole might be the deciding factor.
3.) Michael Pineda
Another option is Michael Pineda of the Minnesota Twins. Pineda is 32-years-old and coming off a season where he posted a 3.62 ERA. He’s gotten better over the past few seasons, posting a 7.24 strikeouts per nine and 1.73 walks per nine rate last season.
His primary pitches are a fastball, slider, and change-up. While his fastball hovers in the low 90s, he has great break on his slider. Interestingly, his pitch velocity doesn’t exactly tell the full story of his statistics, but his success might garner a decent contract from the Bombers. He earned $11.3 million last season, so he might be hovering in that same price range this off-season.