The Yankees added to their starting rotation on Thursday evening, signing Marcus Stroman to a two-year, $37 million deal, which includes a 2026 vesting option and a player option in 2025 if he tosses 140 innings.
The Yankees will have the opportunity to get out of the deal after 2024, averaging $18.5 million per season for a 32-year-old pitcher who has had tremendous success in the past.
The truth is that the Yankees’ rotation could use another big piece, which is why they are exchanging numbers with Blake Snell. The two sides aren’t reportedly close on a deal, but adding his services to the rotation would undoubtedly give them a strong unit capable of pushing for a World Series title. However, that would indicate one arm is pushed out of the rotation, or they could try to leverage one of their pieces via trade.
The Yankees Projected Starting Rotation:
Coming off an AL Cy Young award, Gerrit Cole is 33 years old and posted a 2.63 ERA across 209 innings this past season. Cole remains one of the best pitchers in the game and is worth every penny. He has an out in his contract after next season, but the Yankees can trigger an additional year to his deal in 2029 that would void the out.
Cole will likely exercise it just to guarantee he will earn $36 million in the final year of his contract, but for now, he remains the team’s ace and an extremely effective starter.
The Yankees’ 2024 season could hang in the balance depending on how Carlos Rodon bounces back from an injury-riddled campaign last year.
At 31, Rodon is heading into the second year of a six-year, $162 million deal and the Yankees desperately need him to be their number two unless they go out and land Snell. The lefty starter finished with a 6.85 ERA last season across 64.1 innings, watching his strikeouts dip below 9 per nine innings, hosting a 60.5% left-on-base rate and 27.1% ground ball rate. Rodon holds the keys to the rotation and his bounce back would be a massive deal for a Yankee team that has already made significant moves to support their offensive endeavors.
Stroman has the upside to be a solid starter for this team, considering he produces a significant amount of ground balls and limits home runs. He did have a few issues walking batters last season, especially during the second half of the year, but he has plenty of upside and the Yankees are willing to take a short-term deal.
It is clear that general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t want to overspend on any pitchers over 30 years old, and while the rumors continue to bubble, he could wait until next year to make a run at Corbin Burnes in free agency, let alone spend big on a Juan Soto extension.
Of course, Nestor Cortes running back his 2022 All-Star season would be fantastic. Now 29 years old, Cortes settled in arbitration on Thursday at $3.95 million but battled left rotator cuff issues in 2023. He tossed only 63.1 innings, logging a 4.97 ERA, 69.1% left-on-base rate, and 26.3% ground ball rate. After tossing 158.1 innings in 2022, the Yankees know he can be extremely effective, they just need him to stay healthy.
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Having Clarke Schmidt slotted into the last spot in the rotation is ideal since his upside could carry him into the middle of the pack.
At 27 years old, Schmidt enjoyed his first season as a starter last year but recorded a 4.64 ERA across 159 innings. Schmidt had a few good stretches but was rather inconsistent, recording a 70.2% left-on-base rate and 43.8% ground ball rate.
Schmidt has the pitch mix to be extremely effective in the MLB, he just needs to become a bit more accurate and maintain his confidence after getting into trouble. Schmidt often failed to get through the batting order a third time and when the going got tough, he seemed to collapse.
Just like Gerrit Cole, he needs to have that bulldog mentality and push through adversity, only focusing on the next pitch. Building up a bit of stamina and going through his first full season in the spotlight should help him take a step forward this upcoming campaign.