Could Yankees skip right over Gerrit Cole, Strasburg to settle on second tier starter?

Should the New York Yankees pursue Madison Bumgarner this offseason?
May 7, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) walks off the mound at the end of the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With Scott Boras circling overhead as the Yankees consider the reality of signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole this offseason, they could be getting cold feet. General manager Brian Cashman didn’t hesitate to express his interest in big-name free agents. Still, owner Hal Steinbrenner was reluctant to admit his starting pitching rotation needs any help at all. Steinbrenner blamed the lack of run production for his team’s failed attempt at the postseason.

“Of course, we’re going to talk to Strasburg. We’ll talk to Cole. We’ll talk to the higher-end guys, clearly, and have conversations, and we’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure,” Cashman told reporters at the annual GM meetings.

“Obviously, [both are] great, talented players that have earned so many accolades along the way — and for good reason. They are some of the premier pitchers the game has seen at this time, so it’s a good time to be them.”

Cole would be the best option for the Bombers, considering his excellent health and absolute dominance across the board last season. His 20-5 record and 2.50 ERA proves his worth, and the value he holds will be above $200 million, likely breaking the record for starting pitcher money.

The Yankees pursuing Cole isn’t a matter of why, but when. The problem is, Cashman is stingy with his money when it comes to pitching, which is why he could settle on tier-2 options that would save him a bit of money in free agency. Despite his stringiness, Cashman seems committed to solving his rotational issue in regards to the starters.

My primary concern is that talent they are already retaining, and what they will do to even out the rotation given they sign a big name.

The current Yankees rotation:

  1. Luis Severino
  2. James Paxton
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. Domingo German
  5. J.A. Happ
  6. Jordan Montgomery
  7. Michael King/Deivi Garcia

With eight capable arms, adding a high-priced pitcher would force them one of two ways. Either they retain all of their pitchers, or they could look to trade a young arm and gain essential value at a different position (first base, outfield).

While I’m skeptical Cashman will drop the bomb on a Cole type of pitcher, he could look to pursue Madison Bumgarner.

“I will definitely talk to Bumgarner’s agency,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I haven’t. But I will.”

The reason Madison is so attractive is that he offers consistency at half the price Cole will undoubtedly sign for. He finished 2019 with a 9-9 record, 3.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 203 strikeouts over 207.2 innings. Another factor to consider is his dominance during playoff baseball. He boasts an 8-3 record, 2.11 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, three shutouts, three completed games, three World Series titles, and 87 strikeouts in 102.1 innings.

In other words, I imagine that Cashman will be looking into Bumgarner heavily this offseason.

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