Yankees’ star free agent target has lucrative $270 million demand

MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were the only team who made a formal offer for Blake Snell at six years $150 million, and while most would consider it a good starting point, it didn’t seem to come close to what he was demanding. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, his representatives initially had a nine-year $270 million demand, which the Yankees declined to match. Since then they’ve signed Marcus Stroman to a two-year $37 million contract, and barring a dramatic shift in asking price, it doesn’t seem like Snell will get the incredibly high contract he’s demanded.

As the team pivots to bullpen options in free agency, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the Yankees will sign Blake Snell based on the length and value of the deal.

Yankees and Blake Snell Were Far Apart On Contract Demands

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants
Sep 25, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Snell is coming off winning his second Cy Young, pitching to a 2.25 ERA across 32 starts and improving as the season went on. The left-hander struck out 234 batters last season and showed flashes of being one of the very best pitchers in the game, but concerns about his long-term viability have held teams back from making a $200 million offer to him. On the surface, Blake Snell is a two-time Cy Young winner with a career 3.20 ERA and 29.7% strikeout rate, and his demands reflect one of an elite pitcher, but teams don’t view him as a consistently dominant one.

In 2022 Snell made just 24 starts and posed a 3.38 ERA, and the year prior he made 27 starts and posted a 4.20 ERA, a departure from the elite run prevention we saw in 2023. Between his two Cy Young seasons in 2018 and 2023, Snell was 35th in pitching WAR (9.0) and had a 3.85 ERA, which leaves teams skeptical of his ability to sustain elite production on the mound. This does seem like a different version of Blake Snell, however, as he seems to walk batters intentionally to avoid allowing damage contact.

Fewer fastballs and more breaking balls and offspeed pitches meant generating more whiffs, and the left-hander was the best pitcher in baseball by far during that stretch. This adjustment could result in more sustainable success, but it’s certainly not worth the $270 million asking price he had. Only Gerrit Cole and Yoshinobu Yamamoto received more guaranteed money in free agency as pitchers, and there’s no chance the Yankees made Blake Snell the third-highest-paid pitcher in the history of baseball/

The Los Angeles Angels were linked to Blake Snell by Jeff Passan earlier this week, and perhaps they make an offer closer to what Snell is looking for, but it seems unlikely that the Yankees will make another offer. It’s also important to remember that in the United States when an offer is rejected on a contract, the offer no longer exists. If Blake Snell decides to settle at $150 million, the Yankees would have to make another offer, and their interest in handing out a nine-figure deal at this point in free agency is unknown.

It’s a remarkably high contract demand, and I don’t foresee the Yankees engaging with Scott Boras on Blake Snell unless he takes a one or two-year deal. Teams have yet to make an offer for a reason, and it seems as if this will drag into February, where perhaps another team can swoop in and snag the star left-hander.