Yankees could sign free-agent starter if Gerrit Cole is forced to miss significant time

mlb: nlcs-arizona diamondbacks at philadelphia phillies, new york yankees
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With the Yankees waiting to announce the results of Gerrit Cole’s MRI scans this week, the fan base is experiencing unprecedented anxiety. Cole is the team’s top starting pitcher and the 2023L AL Cy Young Award winner.

If the injury to Cole comes back worse than expected, the Yankees may have to pivot to a free agent or look to the trade market to help reinforce the unit. Unfortunately, they will have to pay top dollar for Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery or an acquisition that includes Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox.

They could go a bit cheaper and hope to smooth things over with a player like 32-year-old Michael Lorenzen.

Lorenzen is certainly no Cole, but he’s coming off a decent season in 2023 between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He tossed 153 innings, the most in his career, posting a 4.18 ERA, a 69.8% left-on-base rate, and a 41% ground-ball rate. He’s a low strikeout rate pitcher but doesn’t give up many walks or homers per nine, especially in what was his best season last year.

Lorenzen utilizes a four-seam fastball, slider, change-up, and sinker. His fastball posted a .211 average last year against opposing hitters, while his slider produced a 29.3% whiff rate and a .242 average. The Yankees may like his pitch mix and view it as something they can work with toward the back of the rotation, especially since he pitched over 150 innings last season.

READ MORE: Yankees’ veteran infielder showing signs of a bounce-back

The Yankees Would Be Throwing Darts in the Dark

Keep in mind, this doesn’t even closely help replicate the numbers that Cole produces on a yearly basis, and the Yankees are simply hoping that he can return at some point during the 2024 season. Cole pitched over 200 innings for the second consecutive year in 2023, and he was one of the few players the Yankees couldn’t afford to lose, especially with the rotation already thin.

Management is already hoping for several bounce-back performances, notably from Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes. If those two can step up to the plate and offer above-average quality, the Yankees can at least dampen the concerns of losing Cole long-term, but there is simply no supplement.

General manager Brian Cashman has already pushed the team’s luxury tax threshold beyond $300 million, so any further acquisitions would have a 110% tax. Essentially, the Yankees spending $30 million for the 2024 season on Blake Snell would actually cost over $60 million. That is an unsustainable number, and they may have no choice but to pivot to a cheaper alternative that will fit into their financial restraints.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: