If the Yankees are going to make a splash in free agency, they might have found their guy in LHP Blake Snell, who has quickly emerged as an option for the team. Following reports yesterday that ace Gerrit Cole was ‘all for’ the Yankees signing the two-time Cy Young winner, reports from Andy Martino of SNY suggest that the left-hander has ‘privately expressed’ interest in playing for the team. He also added that Snell seems like a more likely fit than former Yankee Jordan Montgomery, and with reports that he could be looking for a smaller-term deal with a higher average salary, the two sides could be perfect for each other.
From the Yankees’ perspective, they could get an arm that alongside Gerrit Cole forms a formidable one-two punch, and Blake Snell could get a chance to dominate and win a title on the biggest stage in all of baseball
NL and AL Cy Young Winners Could Unite on the Yankees
The Yankees are planning to have an ‘active January’ according to Andy Martino, and the team is looking to make a splash to their pitching staff before the season begins. They’re expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of rotation arms, although it won’t be to a point where they spend ‘stupid’ money as well. In terms of a potential fit, it just makes sense for the team to try and explore a potential deal with Blake Snell, who has some of the best stuff in the league and generates swings and misses at a high level. It’s clear that the Yankees are trying to go all-in, and this move could be that final splash.
Blake Snell went 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA and 4.1 fWAR across 32 starts this past season, striking out 234 batters faced but walking 99 in the process. Command is a concern for Snell, but his tendency to live out of the strike zone seems to be in an attempt to not give in to hitters and allow damage contact. One of the biggest tweaks that Snell made mid-season was limiting his four-seamer usage as the pitch got crushed in-zone and he was better off relying on his excellent secondaries which not only prevent damage contact but also generate more swings and misses.
Over his final 21 starts, Snell saw his four-seamer usage drop from 57.2% to 44.3% and as a result, he held a 1.23 ERA and 2.71 FIP, with a 35% Strikeout Rate and 29.1% Hard-Hit Rate. Projections love Blake Snell for 2024 as while regression is expected, they also anticipate that he’ll post the 19th-best ERA (3.65) and finish in the top 25 in WAR (3.3). There are concerns about his ability to pitch deep into games as he averaged roughly 5.2 innings per start, but he finished the season on a nine-start streak where he completed six or more innings pitched as he became more comfortable leaning on his secondaries.
FanGraphs believes the Yankees currently have a middle-of-the-pack rotation and while the team still has question marks surrounding arms like Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes, the upside there is currently very high. Adding Blake Snell to the rotation takes the pressure off of a pitcher like Rodon and increases the team’s floor and ceiling as well, and they could place some well-timed opt-outs that could keep the Yankees from having to roster Snell long-term, assuming he remains an effective starter.
The left-hander has plenty of experience in the American League East as well as he debuted with the Tampa Bay Rays, and his postseason experience will certainly come in handy as well. Blake Snell has excellent stuff and strikeout numbers and if the Yankees wanted to make a true splash, then he would be a box office move that brings the team into the upper echelon of contenders in the league. It would also serve as a blow for division rivals as teams in their division haven’t improved much at all, and the Yankees could certainly capitalize.
It remains to be seen if the Yankees and Blake Snell will match up in terms of price point, but it’s looking as if their interest in the left-hander and his interest in the team are mutual.