Danny Salazar: The Hidden Gem The New York Yankees Should Dig Up

Ryan Garcia
New York Yankees, Aaron Boone
Oct 2, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone in the field during a workout day before game 1 of the ALDS at Yankees Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While the MLB may not be starting up just yet with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still talks in executive offices around the league on ways to improve their team. The New York Yankees may have a pitching problem after 2020 if the season doesn’t play out. JA Happ won’t be able to meet the 165 inning requirement to get his third year, and Tanaka and Paxton are for sure free agents. This means the Yankees need to replace three starters by either re-signing players or adding through their farm system. They definitely will need one more starter as I don’t see all three pitchers returning. In the situation in which the Yankees need to spend on a starter, why not spend on a low-risk high reward arm? Meet the MLB’s hidden gem, Danny Salazar.

With Great Potential Comes Devastating Injury

In his career, Danny Salazar has a 3.82 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 3.45 xFIP, and 3.45 SIERRA. This is paired with his 10.47 K/9 and outstanding 41.3% groundball rate. These metrics are great, but he isn’t a free agent for no reason, he’s an injury-riddled pitcher, He has only 107 innings pitched since 2017, which is very concerning however for a 1-year minor league deal, it’s a risk that would be wise to take. Salazar has a devastating mix of pitches, with a great 4-seam fastball that averaged near 96 MPH, a changeup that hasn’t seen an SLG% higher than .397 in a season with 50+ innings pitched, and a slider that in 2017 opponents could only slug .209 against. There are few pitchers with a better arsenal than his, but can it hold up even with his extensive history of injury?

Salazar Can Sustain Success

While his right shoulder injury is for sure very concerning especially since his fastball velocity saw a massive dip for his short stint in 2019, though that could’ve been because he suffered an injury right after. That makes you think that he can’t get better and he should just give up right? Wrong. Salazar now has had over a year to heal his right shoulder and has an extended time due to quarantine halting the MLB season. Danny Salazar doesn’t need to pitch 200 innings for the Yankees, that’s unrealistic, but if he can be an Adam Warren type pitcher who splits time in the rotation and pen, he can be a menace and sustain the success he experienced early. Low volume innings with high outputs of success could devastate opposing offenses.

What Role Does He Serve

Danny Salazar could be a new type of pitcher we’ve seen flourish in the MLB, which is a pitcher who serves a role similar to a FLEX in fantasy football. Pitchers coming out of the bullpen and starting games, but Salazar fits a niche even in that category. Chad Green is an example of that type of pitcher but Salazar can pitch deeper into games. Salazar throwing 4 innings one day then a few days later 2 innings, then after that 5 innings? He could be the DJ LeMahieu of the pitching staff, being productive no matter if he’s starting or relieving. This type of usage would be a sparkplug for the pitching staff and definitely prove useful in tight spots in October.

Danny Salazar may be an injury-prone arm, but he’s just what the New York Yankees could need if he gets healthy.