With the Texas Rangers clinching the 2023 World Series, the New York Yankees are poised to enter free agency alongside the rest of Major League Baseball (MLB). The team anticipates the departure of several key players, notably two starters from the rotation and a number of bullpen arms.
Evaluating Team Strategies and Potential Rebuilding
The Yankees’ front office is re-assessing its strategic approach, with the upcoming months critical for the team’s potential rebuilding phase. Priorities are likely to focus on reinforcing the batting order and bolstering the starting pitching, but the extent of owner Hal Steinbrenner’s commitment to these changes remains to be seen.
Yankees’ Impending Free Agents
Seven members of the Yankees roster are on the cusp of free agency:
1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 28, is expected to part ways with the team, saving the Yankees approximately $6 million in salary. Over his two-year tenure with the Bombers, Kiner-Falefa hit .261 with a .314 on-base percentage (OBP) in 2022 and .242 with a .306 OBP in 2023. Despite a career-high 19.4% strikeout rate and a 7.8% walk rate over at least 100 games, he struggled to secure a permanent starting position, often filling in due to injuries in the outfield.
With the promising prospect Oswaldo Cabrera on the rise, the Yankees seem prepared to reallocate funds and assign Kiner-Falefa’s utility duties elsewhere.
2. Zach McAllister
Zach McAllister was a late-season addition from Triple-A, marking his return to MLB action since 2018. However, his brief stint resulted in a 10.13 ERA over 5.1 innings. It’s apparent McAllister’s time with the Yankees has ended, and the team is expected to turn to their prospects to address any gaps in the bullpen.
3. Frankie Montas
After a disappointing 2023 season cut short by shoulder surgery, Frankie Montas might be offered a one-year contract extension. Despite his early-season exit, Montas had a successful 2022 with a 3.18 ERA across 104.2 innings with the Oakland Athletics prior to his trade to the Yankees.
A potential one-year agreement of around $10 million could see Montas fill a role in the rotation’s back end as he continues his rehabilitation. Such a contract could provide excellent value for the Yankees and set Montas up for a more lucrative multiyear deal should he perform well in 2024.
4. Luis Severino
The Yankees seem set to part ways with Luis Severino following an injury-plagued season. The 29-year-old homegrown talent ended the year with a 6.65 ERA over 89.1 innings, a stark decline from the 3.18 ERA over 102 innings in 2022.
The organization once viewed Severino as a potential ace, but it appears time for both parties to move in different directions. With a previous salary of $17.5 million and a luxury tax salary of $12.25 million, Severino’s departure would free up significant financial resources for the Yankees.
5. Keynan Middleton
Considering his 3.38 ERA across 50.2 innings in 2023, the Yankees might entertain re-signing Keynan Middleton on a budget-friendly contract. Particularly impressive was his 1.88 ERA during his tenure with the team. An offer of around $2 million for the upcoming season might be a prudent investment for the bullpen.
6. Wandy Peralta
Wandy Peralta, another veteran in the Yankees bullpen, might be a candidate for retention. Serving as one of the team’s few left-handed relief pitchers, he could provide much-needed diversity in the bullpen lineup.
Peralta’s performance, which included a 2.83 ERA and 8.50 strikeouts per nine across 54 innings, has made him a high-leverage player. Despite being 32 years old and facing reliability concerns, he could still be valuable for middle-innings relief if he agrees to a modest contract following his $3.35 million earnings in 2023.
7. Luke Weaver
Luke Weaver, who posted a 3.38 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine across 13.1 innings after joining from the Seattle Mariners, is likely to be let go. His career has been marked by inconsistency, and the Yankees may prefer to explore more cost-effective, younger options.