Should the Yankees take the $200 million risk to round out the starting rotation?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres, yankees, blake snell
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The Yankees have been actively engaged in the bullpen market during this free-agency period. Following their recent signing of Marcus Stroman to a two-year, $37 million deal, they shifted their focus to bolstering the rest of their pitching staff. A key part of this strategy involves engaging with 2023 NL Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell.

Negotiating with Blake Snell

According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Yankees have extended a six-year, $150 million offer to Snell, which averages out to $25 million per season. However, Snell quickly rejected this proposal, seeking a more lucrative deal. It’s anticipated that Snell could secure a contract in the vicinity of $200 million or slightly less.

Currently, the Yankees are the only team actively pursuing Snell, as other teams are resolving their television deals before making significant offers.

The critical question for the Yankees is whether it’s worth increasing their offer to secure Snell as a key component of their rotation.

Assessing Snell’s Value and Potential Risk

At 31, investing over $25 million annually in Snell raises concerns, particularly given the likelihood of regression. Snell’s 2023 season was stellar, with 180 innings pitched, a 2.25 ERA, 11.70 strikeouts per nine, an 86.7% left-on-base rate, and a 44.4% ground ball rate. Despite a career-high walk rate of 4.95 per nine, his ability to navigate out of trouble was notable.

However, Snell’s track record of not pitching beyond the 5th inning means the Yankees would heavily rely on their bullpen during his starts. While he offers a high strikeout rate and adds diversity as a lefty, investing significantly in a player immediately after a career-best season carries risks. Snell has surpassed 130 innings only twice in his career, raising concerns about his longevity and stamina.

Signing Snell would undoubtedly strengthen the Yankees’ rotation, boosting their World Series hopes for the coming seasons. Yet, with strong pitching options available in next year’s free agency, the Yankees might benefit from waiting for a more efficient signing rather than risking a potentially burdensome contract with Snell.

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Balancing Yankees’ Risks and Financial Prudence

Unless Snell’s asking price aligns more closely with the Yankees’ comfort zone, around $25 million per season, the risk may outweigh the benefits.

The Yankees already have several cumbersome contracts, notably Giancarlo Stanton’s and Carlos Rodon’s, who is under pressure to perform following a disappointing first year. In light of these commitments, the Yankees must carefully consider the long-term implications of any new high-value contract, especially in the case of Blake Snell.