For the New York Yankees, this has been a season of inaction as they wait out the negotiations to retain DJ LeMahieu in pinstripes. Those negotiations are at a standstill as the sides are far apart. LeMahieu, after having one of the best seasons in baseball in 2020, has indicated that he would like to stay in New York; he likes playing there and likes his teammates. But as much as he feels that way, he also realizes he is worth much more than the $24 million he got from the Yankees before the 2019 season.
Knowing his value to the Yankees, he has upped his demands, and he wants to double his last contract and for a full five years. The Yankees want three years, but that is not good enough for LeMahieu, who is more interested in his security through the age of 37 when he may well retire from the game. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ biggest need remains pitching. New York Yankee fans would like to see the team hire Trevor Bauer, the best starter in free agency. But with the recent news that Bauer wants a $200 million contract, the likelihood of that happening is the same as “The Boss” coming back to life to make it happen.
The reality is that the Yankees have no money to make anything big happen for two reasons. One is that owner Hal Steinbrenner has said he wants to cut payroll, and the other is that the Yankees lost so much money last year, with an unclear year ahead. The will most likely result in the Yankees going the trade route or picking up some cheap pitching help both in the starting rotation and to fill holes in the bullpen. Here are some potential targets that wouldn’t break the Yankees bank.
Homer Bailey’s best days are behind him, yet he is a veteran that could eat up a lot of inning for the Yankees on a short and cheap contract. There are two reasons that Bailey could come to the Yankees on the cheap. He had an injury-plagued season last year with the Minnesota Twins where he pitched only eight innings on the year, but he did pitch to a 3.38 ERA.
Bailey spent twelve years with the Cincinnati Reds and short stints with Kansas City, Oakland, and the Twins. At age 34 and with his injury history last season, he would probably only cost the Yankees something in the $2 million range. There is not much downside to the Yankees taking a chance on the veteran.
Rich Hill is another risk the New York Yankees might be interested in for a short contract. The 16 year Veteran starting pitcher will be 41 at the start of the 2021 season but has not had a losing year in the last 7 years. This is more than can be said for the Yankee departing pitchers. Rich Hill threw 38.2 innings across eight starts in 2020, suffering just a single setback of a sore shoulder and evading a recurrence of the myriad blister issues from seasons past.
Hill would probably cost the Yankees in the same $2 million range due to his age and injury history. Yet, there is a minimal downside to a deal. His career 67-44 career record is surely attractive, and his age doesn’t seem to be an issue as his career ERA of 3.79 has been less in the past 5 years. He also knows Yankee Stadium; he pitched 14 games for the Yankees in 2014.
Tyler Chatwood would be the most costly to the Yankees of the three pitchers in this article but could be gotten far cheaper than in 2019. Chatwood, like many pitchers, didn’t have a good year last season for the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA, which will significantly drag down his $13 million in earnings for 2020.
Chatwood has always had tremendous potential that has never been fully realized. He is known as the spin rate king. If Yankee pitching coach and harness that, he could be the one to turn Chatwood into a star. If the Yankees can get him for $5-6 million on a one year deal, it could have big-time rewards for the Yankees.