When considering low-key signings the Yankees have made in the past, they’ve struck gold on several players that have featured inefficient numbers. Notably, Jose Treviño, Clay Holmes, Matt Carpenter, and plenty more have outplayed expectations.
Cashman might have landed himself yet another gem on the free agent market with 28-year-old bullpen arm James Norwood. Norwood was drafted in the 7th round by the Chicago Cubs back in 2014, but he struggled to make an impact at the MLB level, but the Yankees might find a way to turn his career around.
There’s no reason for a pitcher that posted a 2.55 ERA in Tiple-A back in 2018 has been unable to find his groove at the Major League level. He has the quality to make an impact, featuring a solid strikeout rate at 9.34 per nine innings across his career in the bigs.
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The Yankees saw the worst of James Norwood in 2022:
With the Philadelphia Phillies this past season, he recorded an 8.31 ERA, 11.42 strikeouts per nine, and a 33.3% ground ball rate across 17.1 innings. He clearly struggled, but he features solid velocity with a 96.8 mph fastball, down from 97.3 in 2021 with the San Diego Padres.
Norwood features a sinker, splitter, 4-seam fastball, and slider. He primarily relies on his 4-seam and splitter combination, with his fastball generating 65% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher. On paper, he has a decent pitch sequence and good velocity, which is exactly what pitching coach Matt Blake prefers. I wonder if Blake will try to add a more prominent sinker to his game and shy away from his 4-seamer, which has been one of his less efficient pitches.
Luckily, Blake will be sticking around with the Yankees after newly signed relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle accidentally dropped the news while live-streaming Madden.
Given Norwood has just 44.1 innings of action at the MLB level, he is the perfect prospect to try and turn around at an extremely cheap price point. He will ultimately feature with the team’s Triple-A squad in Scranton for the time being, but the Yankees have called up Minor League players frequently to help in the bullpen, notably Ron Marinaccio and Greg Weissert, who both project to have big roles this upcoming season.
Nonetheless, with quality pitching coaches, Norwood could find his groove, especially since he’s put together good seasons in the past regarding ground ball percentage and weak contact rates.