It is becoming quite clear that the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman are hesitating to spend big on Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell.
Montgomery could be headed back to the Texas Rangers and while Snell is available and ready to sign, will cost more than Carlos Rodon’s six-year, $162-million deal.
The NL Cy Young award winner from 2023 is now 31 years old and a long-term deal could spell trouble as he inevitably regresses. There are concerns regarding his longevity and ability to eat innings, which would put more pressure on the bullpen.
If the Yankees are going to spend $200 million on a pitcher, they’d like him to push past the 5th inning regularly, which is something that Snell can’t do despite coming off his best season as a professional. With that being said, the Yankees could simply save the money and wait until Corbin Burnes is a free agent next year, investing in a truly elite arm to pair with Gerrit Cole as he enters the backend of his prime.
However, the Yanks were recently connected to free agent Marcus Stroman, who reached out to the team initially to show his interest.
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The Yankees Would be Taking a Big Risk With Stroman
Stroman is an interesting player at 32 years old, who likely won’t earn top dollar off an inconsistent year. He’s pitched over 100 innings in his last seven active seasons, which is certainly inspiring. However, his 3.95 ERA last season across 136.2 innings certainly raises eyebrows.
On paper, it is not a bad result, but when you look at the details, he may spell trouble. Despite a 57.4% ground ball rate, which ranks in the 94th percentile, Stroman recorded an 8.63 ERA post All-Star break dealing with a hip injury.
With that being said, if the Yankees do end up signing Stroman, he shouldn’t be considered their primary acquisition to help reinforce the rotation. In fact, he should only be viewed as depth on a short-term contract, which would indicate the Yankees acquiring another arm, whether it be via free agency or the trade market.
Ultimately, there have been extensive talks with the Chicago White Sox about Dylan Cease, and the Yankees have been connected to Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians.
In reality, the Yankees need to make two starting moves, but that would mean pushing one of their current arms out of the rotation since they only need five starters. They have Will Warren at the Triple-A level and he should have an opportunity to work his way into the bullpen and make a few starts due to injury.
Ideally, a legitimate bullpen piece and a starting pitcher would get the job done for the Yankees this off-season, at least buying them some time until the trade deadline over the summer to make any further moves.
Stroman is a fine piece, but the trap of his numbers is that he struggled significantly during the second half of the 2023 season, so he’ll be coming off an injury and he has serious personality issues that could rub the Yankees the wrong way, if not their fans. He would be a tremendous risk, and there are clearly better options available to consider, but it seems as if Cashman wants a shorter-term deal and is shying away from locking himself into another contract that could hurt him down the road.