New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees taking a second look at J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, Lance Lynn, and Trevor May

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

For the New York Yankees, General Manager Brian Cashman is really busy this offseason. After another losing postseason for the Yankees and a World Series drought dating back to 2009, the Yankees are scratching their heads on how to fix a team that just can’t seem to get it done. Some say it’s the pitching, and others say it’s the hitting.

For those who say it’s the hitting, there is good evidence that in the 2017 ALCS, the Yankees hit 3.1 runs per game against the cheating Houston Astros. In 2018 against the Red Sox, they hit 3.5 runs per game, and during the ALCS this year against the Rays, the Yankees once again hit only 3.5 runs per game. When the Yankees had their long winning streak this season, they were scoring 5.6 runs per game. However, any team can have hitting droughts, and the Yankee’s misfortune has been timing.

No, it’s not the hitting that has caused the Yankees problems; it is indeed their lack of quality pitching. If you hold your opponent down, you generally can win games. That ability, even when you can’t score many runs, can be the equalizer. To fix that, the Yankees went out and got the best pitcher on the market Gerrit Cole to lead off the rotation. Back in January, the Yankees thought they had their pitching ills solved.

Fast forward to the spring, and everything went south. Co-ace Luis Severino required Tommy John surgery, and when the season was shortened, the Yankees found out they would lose Domingo German, the 2019 winningness Yankee pitcher, not for two months, but for the whole season. Add to that, James Paxton had back surgery, and he would not regain his velocity. So, even with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, the Yankees were again in a bad place to start the season with only questionable pitching after Cole.

Brian Cashman has some big decisions to make this offseason to get the Yankees back on the winning track. Most observers believe that the Yankees will move for a discounted Masahiro Tanaka and bring him back from free agency. There is even some scuttlebutt out there that says the Yankees may do the same with J.A. Happ. They declined Happ’s option to make $17 million this year. Considering Happ’s performance in 2020, he isn’t worth near that figure. But deep down, the Yankees know he is a fit for New York, and when he has been on, he is lights out. In 2018 he finished the season with seven straight wins. In 2019 he went 12-8, and this season he was second only to Cole in ERA at 3.47.

Assuming the New York Yankees don’t go all-in on Tanaka and or Happ, they do have options with free agents and the trade market. With the Yankees losing more money than any team in baseball last year and wanting to stay below the $210 luxury tax threshold, don’t look for the Yankees to make a big splash by signing a Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or a Francisco Lindor. Cashman will try to do his magic, and get some mid-priced help instead, and maybe find another DJ LeMahieu or Gio Urshela.

The Yankees will be taking a long hard look at Charlie Morton of the Rays on target. The Veteran pitcher is 36 years old now; he is as solid as a pitcher as there is out there. He would be mid-priced, and what is particularly attractive to the Yankees in that he is a successful postseason pitcher. They could also take another look at Lance Lynn in a trade with the Texas Rangers. Lynn has pitched in the Bronx before. He would be a solid mid-rotation type pitcher for the Yankees.

A dark horse, the New York Yankees, could explore is Gerrit Richards. Richards is a righty from the San Diego Padres and reestablished himself this year after an injury-plagued 2019 season. He went 2-2 in 10 starts with an ERA of 4.03. He also has frequently pitched in relief. Speaking of relief the Yankees may make a play for Trevor May. May has been a successful reliever for the Minnesota Twins for the last four years. With the Yankees likely wanting to deal away Adam Ottavio, May would be an excellent replacement.

What makes Morton, Lynn, Richards, and May attractive to the Yankees are that they have quality but at the same time are low to mid-budget replacements. The Yankees will be sure to be penny-pinching but will try to get the most for their dollar that they can. The is one thing for sure, is that this will be a really interesting offseason with an active hot stove.