With free-agent pitchers being plucked off the market, the New York Yankees are waiting patiently to strike and add a starter to the rotation. With the majority of players signing one-year deals in hopes of cashing in after a contract year in 2021, the Yankees could elect to retain Masahiro Tanaka on an extension. While that would be a familiar face added to the rotation, he does not fully embody a number two arm behind Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees need an elite one-two punch if they want to push deeper into the postseason after a decade of failing to reach the World Series. Thereâ€™s no question they have the talent, they just fall ill to fatigue during the latter portion of the postseason, and their hitting disappears at times.
As stated above, options are quickly thinning, but there are two pitchers the Yankees have been linked to the past few weeks.
The New York Yankees could target an international player:
If the Yankees donâ€™t go with Tanaka, they could look to the international market to help bolster their rotation. The Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan have a fantastic right-handed pitcher that could fit the bill well.
According to MLB Network, the Giants are expected to put him on the market, and at 31 years old, Tomoyuki Sugano is elite in his own respect. In 2020, he finished with a 14-2 record, 1.97 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts over 137 innings.
Morosi expects some MLB general managers to place Sugano in the class directly below Bauer among free-agent starters and names the Padres, Giants and Yankees as the teams to watch in the race for the 31-year-old righty, per MLB.
Sugano spent the past eight seasons with Yomiuri, posting a 2.34 ERA with 1,216 strikeouts and 265 walks in 1,362 innings. Heâ€™s a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award, an honor given to the top starting pitcher in NPB.
Sugano could fill one of three spots the Yankees are looking to fill next season. With James Paxton, Tanaka, and JA Happ hitting the market, Sugano offers a fantastic supplement. Considering Tanaka earned $23 million last season and is 32 years old, he might be more attractive based on his familiarity with the MLB and the Yankeesâ€™ Clubhouse. However, taking a chance on a different option could end up being beneficial.
Another arm the Yankees have been linked to is former Padre Garrett Richards. In 2020, Richards pitched in 51.1 innings, logging a 4.03 ERA, 40.1% ground ball right, and 8.09 strikeout per nine. Richards, another injury-prone pitcher, would likely come on a cheaper deal, similar to Paxton several years ago. Theoretically, retaining Paxton might even be a more valuable move based on his lefty arm and dominance when healthy. Richards to simply an alternative that could make sense for the Yankees and their desire to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.