For the last decade, there have always been questions surrounding the New York Yankees starting rotation. That has been the one flaw in the team that has hindered them from getting over the hump and capturing a 28th World Series championship.
The Yankees made a big step in the right direction signing Gerrit Cole last offseason. Cole has been very good so far this year pitching to a 5-3 record with a 3.20 ERA and striking out 12.1 batters per nine innings. Masahiro Tanaka has been good, but the rest of the rotation has been hit or miss.
Jordan Montgomery hasn’t been sensational so far. The Yankees have had solid outings from J.A. Happ, but the bombers are hoping he’s not part of their 2021 plans given his optional salary. The Yankees have had one pleasant surprise this year, and that’s been Deivi Garcia.
I started thinking about the Yankees beyond this odd COVID season. What is the Yankees rotation going to look like beyond this year, and what are the Yankees going to do this offseason to address the starting pitching? Let’s take a dive into the options.
The Yankees Internal Options
Realistically there is only one guarantee for the Yankees rotation to start the season and that’s Gerrit Cole. Luis Severino will of course be a part of the rotation, but we really don’t know when he will return from his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
I would think that the Yankees would be willing to give Domingo German a spot in the rotation. Last year’s 18 game winner was suspended for the shortened season due to a Domestic Violence case. If those three are in, that leaves questions around the other two spots.
Deivi Garcia sure looks like he deserves a full-time spot in the rotation. The 21 year old has looked sensational through three starts for the Yankees pitching to a 3.06 ERA. However, given the small sample size, his spot isn’t guaranteed.
Jordan Montgomery could get one of the final two spots, but his inconsistent performances could give the Yankees pause. Clarke Schmidt is another option, but he was never given an actual look in the starting rotation, so I’m not convinced they’d go with him.
As things stand, the Yankees could go into the 2021 season without doing a thing and they could field a starting five if Severino is ready to start the year which might be unlikely. If Severino isn’t ready, the Yankees could give Schmidt a chance or look at the starting pitching market.
Options in the Market
The Yankees do have a few starting pitchers that will be hitting the free agent market. The Yankees will do what they can to make sure J.A. Happ’s option doesn’t vest while James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are both set to become free agents after the year.
If the Yankees were to sign someone in the market, the likely signing would be retaining Masahiro Tanaka. While resigning Tanaka would certainly not be the sexy option for fans, this will probably be the most likely avenue GM Brian Cashman goes down.
If I were running things, I would take a shot at Trevor Bauer. Bauer is having a career year for the Reds. How nice would it be to pair him and Gerrit Cole? Yes there’s personal friction, but money and championships talk.
The Yankees could also look at retaining Paxton, but given the injury concerns, this likely won’t be an option unless they get him dirt cheap. The Yankees could also explore the trade market, but with Cashman’s history, this is also unlikely because of his unwillingness to deal top prospects.
There are plenty of avenues the team can go down to finish off the rotation next year. I would caution fans to not dream of a Bauer scenario. Instead, prepare yourselves for more of a underwhelming offseason like retaining Masahiro Tanaka.