The Yankees might’ve made a $162 million mistake in free agency

carlos rodon, yankees

The New York Yankees have found themselves struggling in the AL East, even after their strong start to the 2023 season. During the first two weeks, only the Tampa Bay Rays appeared more dominant, but injuries and inconsistencies have caused the Yankees’ standings to plummet, leaving them 8.5 games behind first place.

Upon closer examination, this Yankee team holds the last position among AL East rivals, with a +1 run differential, which is the lowest in the group by a significant margin. Winning only three out of their last ten games and currently enduring a four-game losing streak, the Bombers are learning the tough lesson that a lack of depth and reliance on injury-prone talent eventually take their toll.

The Yankees make poor transaction after poor transaction:

General manager Brian Cashman made a few notable acquisitions, such as the $360 million extension of Aaron Judge, which may be his only positive move. Extending Anthony Rizzo was also a positive. Many were advocating for the signing of star pitcher Carlos Rodon, who was the best starting pitcher available, coming off two outstanding seasons with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox. He boasted a 2.88 ERA last season across 178 innings, achieving a career-high usage rate with nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings and a career-low 6.5% HR/FB ratio.

Ultimately, the Yankees decided to count on him with a six-year, $162 million deal. However, Rodon barely made it through the first few days of spring training before suffering a left forearm strain. Although he has recovered from that injury, he is now dealing with back stiffness and progressing through his rehabilitation at a slow pace.

The Yankees were aware that Rodon was a significant injury risk, and opposing executives were surprised by their offer of a six-year deal for the 30-year-old player. Currently, it appears as though the Yankees will be paying $27 million per season for minimal production in return.

Once again, Cashman has invested in an injury-prone player who has proven to be more of a liability than an asset. While Rodon still has ample time to return and make a substantial impact, this decision is questionable from several perspectives. In addition to Rodon’s lack of reliability and durability, the Yankees could have allocated that money to other positions in dire need of support.

A cursory look at the outfield reveals a dearth of talent, and yet again, Cashman placed his trust in injury-prone players. The Bombers consistently face the same problems year after year, but in the past, their depth has saved them. Players like Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Matt Carpenter, and others have stepped up to fill gaps, but that level of production is absent in 2023.

Franchy Cordero has cooled off significantly since an impressive first week, Willie Calhoun is a defensive liability and an inconsistent hitter, Oswaldo Cabrera has yet to establish his offensive identity, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa has offered minimal value at the plate.

The Yankees are banking heavily on Harrison Bader’s return, expected later this week against the Tampa Bay Rays. Although he is an elite defensive center fielder, his offensive statistics place him below average, suggesting that the Yankees may not find much relief in his return.

It is clear that the issues are widespread and not disappearing anytime soon, leading to speculation that Cashman may engage in a spending spree at the trade deadline this year, depleting his farm system for talent. However, this could prove to be a terrible move, considering the team’s lack of depth and inability to rely on a healthy roster for competition.

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