Yankees could pursue one bonafide ace in free agency when lockout ends

clayton kershaw, yankees

The New York Yankees failed to make a big splash before the lockout in free agency, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay quiet after the fact. General manager Brian Cashman likely planned to wait until after the lockout to spend, but he did miss out on several big names that would’ve helped improve the team.

The starting pitching rotation remains a liability, especially since Gerrit Cole needs another top player to play Robin to his Batman. Cashman offered Cole’s former teammate, Justin Verlander, a one-year, $25 million deal. We know that the Yankees are willing to spend on a sufficient starter, but they also missed out on Robbie Ray, who just won a Cy Young Award with the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are a few quality options left on the market, one of them being Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. At 33-years-old, Kershaw is still pitching well, hosting a 3.55 ERA this past season with 10.65 strikeouts per nine and a 48.5% ground ball rate.

Kershaw’s ability to generate ground balls is perfect for Yankee Stadium, and considering he hasn’t dipped above a 3.55 ERA since his rookie season in 2008, there’s no question he has a bit of gas left in the tank.

With that being said, he’s not a high-velocity pitcher by any means, hovering around 90.7 mph with his fastball. He only throws his fastball on 36.8% of his pitches, based on last season’s metrics, but saw a big increase in slider usage and still incorporates a curveball into his repertoire.

Given his lack of power, the Yankees may overlook him for a more strong-armed approach, but it is clear he can still offer value at the right price. Of course, there’s always the question of whether Kershaw is even willing to move to the East Coast after spending his entire career in California. Given the Dodgers didn’t extend a qualifying offer to their Ace, it opens up the door for a potential move.

Some may say that Kershaw is headed into the final years of his career, but he’s only two years older than Cole and is coming off a solid campaign where he pitched 121.2 innings. He’s had a myriad of injuries in the past, but that may give the Yankees a bit of leverage to drive his price down.

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