The New York Yankees have to inject a bit more talent into the starting pitching rotation, but the free-agent pool has thinned significantly. While GM Brian Cashman could look to the trade market a potential solution, especially with the Oakland Athletics willing to part ways with some of their young starting pitchers, a cheaper free agent might still be in the cards.
Having missed out on Zach Wheeler, Klayton Kershaw, and a bevy of high-end starters, Cashman’s chances of improving the rotation are quickly disappearing. However, they could look to one veteran arm on the roster looking to make a comeback after missing most of the 2021 season.
Current Yankees’ starting pitching rotation:
- Gerrit Cole
- Jameson Taillon
- Jordan Montgomery
- Luis Severino
- Nestor Cortes
One of the league’s most glorified pitchers is Cole Hamels, who joined the Atlanta Braves back in 2020, has only pitched 3.1 innings in the last two years. Hamels isn’t ready to give up on his career despite his limitations, and if the Yankees want a cheap veteran who could serve a key role at the back-end of the rotation or a relief arm, he might fit the bill perfectly.
Back in 2019, Hamels posted a 3.81 ERA over 141.2 innings. He recorded 9.08 strikeouts per nine, 77.7% left on base rate, and 47.3% ground-ball rate. Even if Hamels can get back a smidge of his former quality, he could serve an important role as a support guy for the Yankees. Cashman has taken chances on formerly injured veterans in the past, most notably Corey Kluber, who ended up missing the majority of 2020 with shoulder inflammation.
Looking at Hamels’ repertoire of pitches, he featured a fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup. Back in 2019, Hamels saw his fastball level out at around 91.4 mph — nothing too crazy but he’s capable of dotting corners and mixing in breaking pitches effectively to curate success. Hamels has never been a velocity thrower, but he’s great at keeping baseballs on the ground and avoiding the barrel of the bat.
Cashman may be able to land Hamels on a one-year deal worth minimal money, and taking a shot on the veteran would give them some much-needed experience in the rotation and a potential relief pitcher if he can’t sustain multiple innings as a starter. There’s value to be had on the free-agent market, Cashman just has to be willing to find it.