Tommy Kahnle and the New York Yankees may be parting ways
The New York Yankees have outrighted Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle has been with the Yankees for four years; during that time, he has been one of the better Yankee relievers, going 6-3 with an ERA of 4.01. Last season he pitched in only one game before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. Under most circumstances, that would mean that Kahnle would miss most if not all of the 2021 season. The Yankees decided to offer him an assignment to the minor leagues. Kahnle refused and opted for free agency.
This action does not preclude him from being in pinstripes again, but it does allow him to test the free-agent market for his services. What interest he draws is yet to be seen, as he won’t be available to pitch in the 2021 season. Any team that wants him will be looking for his help in 2022. With so little funds available to teams, it will be interesting to see how giving teams will be in acquiring free agents. He is free to talk to any team with his free agency, including the New York Yankees, should they decide to negotiate with him. We may not have seen the last of Tommy at Yankee Stadium.
Why is the stove so hot?
That’s an odd question for a baseball discussion, but that’s really what it is, a baseball discussion. For the last hundred years or so, the baseball offseason has been called the “hot stove.” According to the year, that stove can run hot or cool according to how much there is to discuss. After a season with no fans in the stands, the MLB teams don’t have a lot of money to spend to better their teams, and that includes the New York Yankees, which would lead you to believe that this season the stove will run cold.
Not so, with so many free agents on the market, sportswriters like myself and fans alike will have much bologna to throw around. And most of it will be bologna, as predicting what teams will do this early in the postseason is like predicting the first snowfall. But the question remains, why is this period called the “hot stove?” Back before the turn of the century when there was no television or internet, fans of all sports would meet on weekends at their local post office or general store and gather by the wood or cold fired pot belly stove to discuss the sports news of the day, thus the “hot stove.” This offseason, the stove is sure to run hot.
Bauer, Kluber, Gausman, or somebody else?
No matter how you try to configure the New York Yankees pitching rotation, the bottom line is they need help. That help should come from a group of premium pitching free agents. And there are many available, but probably only a few that the Yankees will target. Trevor Bauer would be the logical choice as he is the best in the free-agent market, but he may be too good for the Yankee budget.
There has been a lot of talk this week about the Yankees targeting Corey Kluber or Kevin Gausman. Kluber is coming off two injury-riddled seasons but is healthy now. Kluber, the 34-year-old righty starter, went 4-3 with an ERA of 3.97 with the Cleveland Indians before signing a contract with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers failed to exercise his 2021 option for $18 million. He broke his arm, had an oblique injury, and appeared in only one game for the Rangers, resulting in a shoulder strain that kept him off the mound for the entire season. If the Yankees go after Kluber is will only be for a low-cost, prove-it type contract.
Kevin Gausman is a different story. Gusman had a fine year with the San Francisco Giants. Gausman is a veteran righty who went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.62 in 10 starts; he also pitched out of the bullpen. Of the three pitchers mentioned, Gausman will be the economy pick. He is a solid pitcher but could hardly be called a premium pitcher. If the New York Yankees decide to go after him, it will cost them something in the $8-10 million range.
Is the Yankee pitching situation really dire?
The New York Yankees pitching situation is a hot topic this offseason. The Yankees lost Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ to free agency. Although many sportswriters predict that the Yankees will resign Tanaka at a discount, they will still be short pitchers. With Cole, Tanaka, and Mongomery, they will have to fill two slots. One of them will be filled by Luis Severino, who will most likely take the second place behind Cole.
No decision has been made on the off suspension Domingo German. They did install him back onto the 40 man roster, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he will have to prove that he is a changed man in order to join the pitching staff. The big question is, how will Severino and German pitch after not pitching for over a year? If they both pitch well, the Yankees are actually in great shape in the future. But are the Yankees willing to take that chance, or will they try to add a premium arm to the rotation?
The DJ LeMahieu complicated and tangled web
All New York Yankees fans know that the Yankees need to keep DJ LeMahieu on the payroll. The Yankees know they want him on the team as well, but at what cost. DJ has been everything the Yankees could have wanted and more. Considering his stats and awards the Yankees stole him from the Colorado Rockies. He signed a two year $24 million contract and now he is a free agent.
As a free agent in this no money postseason, LeMahieu will nevertheless want a big raise. Most believe that will, be in the $20 million a year range and for no less than four years. If he wants much more than that, it is very possible the Yankees will let him walk. If he does walk that will allow the Yankees to solve one problem by moving Gleyber Torres to second base, his natural position, but they would lose a shortstop. This could lead them to take another look at the Indians star, Francisco Lindor, one of the best shortstops in the business. He would likely want a shorter contract, but at the same money LeMahieu would ask for. The Yankees really have a tangled web of decisions to make.