The New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams have had their hands tied since Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a lockout following an impasse in coming to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Unfortunately, that meant that it halted players and teams from even talking together, thus halting all MLB 40 man roster transactions. But that doesn’t mean that the teams can’t make meaningful moves to improve their minor league system, and the Yankees have done just that.
Last season, the Yankees made some acquisitions that turned out to be very helpful during the season. One of those moves was to sign a player that hadn’t played the game in years. He was Lucas Luetge. He turned out to be one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen. He ended up pitching in 57 games with a 4-2 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.13 whip, and he even picked up a save when Aroldis Chapman was down.
The Yankees also picked up, in addition to the little-heralded signing of Luetge last offseason, trades that resulted in getting Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes to bolster the bullpen. Later at the trade deadline, they picked up Joely Rodriguez in the Joey Gallo trade. All of these pitchers were impactful during the 2021 season.
This season so far has been no different; the Yankees have again added hands to the team with minor league moves. However, one of the most interesting moves to date may have been back on December 16, 2021, when they signed 30-year-old right-handed pitcher Jimmy Cordero who last played with the Chicago White Sox.
If Cordero can help the Yankees next season, it won’t be until mid-season, as he underwent Tommy John surgery last March. Cordero has shown promise in the past. In 2019 he had a .0972 WHIP during 36 innings in 30 games with Chicago. However, he faltered in the 2020 shortened season with a 6.08 ERA, albeit a small sample. Cordero underwent Tommy John surgery last March and is expected back by mid-season this year. He’s shown promising signs in the past, mostly in 2019, when he had a 0.972 WHIP in 36 innings over 30 appearances with Chicago.
After a poor 2021 spring training, he elected to have the elbow surgery that ended his season. If he can come back healthy around the All-Star game, he has featured a sinker that’s been effective, and the Yankees have had success with relievers that use that pitch well. The Yankees are hoping he can be the next Lucas Luetge.
Luetge hadn’t pitched in the majors in six years but spent the entire season with the Yankees last year with excellent results. Wandy Peralta also pitched better than he did with the Giants with much-improved control. Clay Holmes was probably the surprise of the year; he dramatically cut down on his walks and had a 0.786 WHIP with the Yankees in 25 games. All of these pitchers flourished under the tutelage of pitching coach Matt Blake, and the Yankees hope the same will be true of Cordero.
The Yankees still have much to do to improve the pitching staff. After the loss of Corey Kluber to the Rays, they will need a number two type starting pitcher. Also, in the bullpen with the loss of Zack Britton for the season due to his own Tommy John surgery, they will look for a bounce-back season from closer Aroldis Chapman who had the worst season of his career.