New York Yankees: One starting pitcher to replace Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation

New York Yankees, Kevin Gausman

One unit that the New York Yankees will inevitably be focusing on this off-season is the starting pitching rotation. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ all set to hit free agency, general manager Brian Cashman will have to find replacements or elect to retain one of the familiar faces.

Some argue that keeping Paxton is a good move, as he will be a bit cheaper coming off an injury, and having a lefty in the rotation is always a positive. Tanaka is a consistent arm that has been reliable for the Yankees over the years, but he is a bit more costly, and there has been no indication that Cashman wants to keep him in pinstripes. However, we will find out in the near future what their determination is.

Nonetheless, there is a bevy of starting pitchers the Yankees can choose from in free agency. It is also important to remember that they will be gaining back Luis Severino, possibly Domingo German, and cementing Deivi García into the rotation on a regular basis. They have plenty of talent to go around, so I imagine the Yankees will go out and look for 1/2 more starters to bolster the unit.

“I think Garcia could be a fourth or fifth starter, but they have to go out and find somebody else,’’ an NL talent evaluator said Sunday via the NY Post. “Maybe a free agent with hope the pitcher has a bounce-back year or trade [Luke] Voit and get something for him. I would keep Loaisiga in the bullpen.’’

I believe the Yankees don’t feel keen on acquiring a pitcher that is coming off a poor campaign, especially if they have World Series hopes.

Unless it is a quality starter that simply had an off-year, they could look at an option like Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants. He finished the season with a 3.62 ERA over 12 games, pitching in 59.2 innings and allowing 26 runs. He struck out 79 batters and earned a 1.106 WHIP. That was his lowest WHIP in his entire career, which is an encouraging sign.

What would the New York Yankees be getting in Kevin Gausman?

Gausman relies on three pitches predominantly, his fastball, changeup, and split-finger fastball. While his changeup saw a massive increase in usage this past season, his slider has taken a dip to below 7%.

Interestingly, at 29 years old, his fastball saw a 1.1 mph increase compared to 2019. Seeing an increase in velocity is a positive sign and something the Yankees will look at in determining whether or not to pursue him in free agency.

Of course, Trevor Bauer is the cream of the crop in this upcoming class, but dealing out big cash after signing Gerrit Cole last season is probably not ideal. The Yankees need to be more strategic with their finances, especially after a COVID-19 affected season.