The New York Yankees need to be aggressive in the free agent market prior to extending Aaron Judge. With Judge reportedly wanting a nine-year deal, which would end when he’s 39 years old, general manager Brian Cashman undoubtedly has his work cut out for him.
Negotiations are currently underway with Judge, but several other teams have entered the fold and may elevate his cost, forcing the Yankees to spend more than they would otherwise be comfortable with.
However, Judge’s new deal can’t be a distraction, especially with other premier-level players on the market. One of those top free agents is starting pitcher Carlos Rodon, who the Yankees and New York Mets are reportedly “in” on.
Rodon is expected to land a deal for around five years, paying him $28 million per season, well below the contract Justin Verlander is seeking and the one that Jacob deGrom just landed with the Texas Rangers.
Adding Rodon to the starting rotation would allow the Yankees to build something truly special, so now isn’t the time to start pinching pennies with a solid young roster and an opportunity to make a serious run at a World Series next season.
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The Yankees have an opportunity to build something special:
1.) Gerrit Cole
Despite having a relatively down year, Gerrit Cole remains the team’s ace, hosting a 3.50 ERA, 2.78 xFIP, 11.53 strikeouts per nine, and a 78.2% left-on-base rate over 200.2 innings. Longevity-wise, Cole proves year-over-year that he is capable of handling a significant workload, which maintains his status as the top dog.
2.) Carlos Rodon
Rodon is a special talent at 29 years old, posting back-to-back seasons of sub-3.00 ERAs. He earned a 2.88 ERA this past season with 11.98 strikeouts per nine and a 75.1% left-on-base rate over 178 innings. The reason that teams are unwilling to give him significant money is that he’s never pitched over 200 innings and reached a career-high of 178 in 2022.
With required workload management throughout the season, the Bombers will get elite-level stuff out of the free agent but will need to prepare him for postseason baseball, which is an entirely different beast.
Walking away with Judge and Rodon would be a tremendous off-season for the Yankees, and it is realistic, given their financial situation.
3.) Luis Severino
Luis Severino is coming off of a bounce-back campaign, having pitched just 18 innings over the past three seasons combined. He earned a 3.18 ERA, 9.88 strikeouts per nine, and an 80% left-on-base rate over 102 innings. While the Yankees would like to get a little bit more longevity out of him in the future, coming off Tommy John surgery, he put together a stellar campaign.
4.) Nestor Cortes
Nestor Cortes earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022, posting a team-high 2.44 ERA, and 9.27 strikeouts per nine with an 82.8% left-on-base rate. He pitched a career-high 158.1 innings, completely running out of gas during the playoffs. They will need to limit his workload next year to prepare for more meaningful baseball down the stretch, but he has proved his worth, and the team has control over him until 2026 at an extremely cheap price point.
5.) Frankie Montas
Cashman acquired Frankie Montas at the trade deadline this past summer, and the 29-year-old struggled to adjust to his new home. Prior to joining the Yankees, Montas posted a 3.18 ERA over 104.2 innings with Oakland.
Donning the pinstripes, he featured a 6.35 ERA, eventually sustaining a shoulder injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the season. If he can return to his normal self next year, the Yankees project to have an elite rotation, even if Rodon doesn’t end up signing.
Montas is certainly a wildcard, but he has top-shelf stuff and was a bit unlucky during a few of his outings for the Bombers. I wouldn’t sleep on a tremendous bounce back here for him, rounding out rotation nicely.