Yankees get added roster flexibility with young promising starter

mlb: spring training-pittsburgh pirates at new york yankees, yoendrys gomez
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are going to need all of the pitching depth they can get this upcoming season, and they get great news about one of their Minor League arms. Yoendrys Gomez, who made his debut this past season in a two-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays in September, has a fourth MiLB option that will allow the team to send him down to Triple-A this season without placing him on waivers, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Without that option, they would have to roster him on their 26-man roster to avoid losing him for nothing on waivers, and they can keep more of their pitching depth.

It seems like it’s minor, but this is huge for the depth of a rotation that’s severely depleted as of right now.

Yankees to Rely on MiLB Arms for Insurance, Still Searching for Pitching Help

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Mar 12, 2023; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher (89) Yoendrys Gomez throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning during spring training at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

While Yoendrys Gomez isn’t the best prospect in the organization, he’s still a high-upside arm with his low slot four-seamer and solid secondaries that can get swings and misses at a high clip. The 24-year-old right-hander was limited to about 3-4 innings a start this past season as he was recovering from an early-season injury, but he still pitched to a 3.58 ERA and struck out 78 batters in 19 starts last season. Command can be an issue as he sported a high walk rate (13.5%) but the stuff is excellent and he could be stretched out more next year as the Yankees prepare him to potentially make spot starts in 2024.

Gomez, who has been with the organization since 2017, sits at 93-95 on his four-seam fastball with 17-18 inches of vertical carry, and from the aforementioned lower-slot release, the right-hander can create plenty of deception up in the strike zone. Furthermore, his fastball’s horizontal movement hovers closer to the zero-line, making it a cut-ride fastball which is a unique version of the four-seamer that tends to play well due to its unique nature. It’s a plus pitch and the Yankees should be extremely excited about how polished the shape of this pitch is already.

Yoendrys Gomez also possesses an excellent sweeping slider that he can use for swings and misses against right-handed batters with a cutter that he can utilize against lefties. His curveball and changeup both have strong movement profiles and play well off of his fastball, but command and consistency remain big questions. For Gomez, the issue is the inability to stay healthy, which has created problems with his ability to consistently stay in zone and pitch deep into games since he’s always working back from injury.

mlb: washington nationals at new york yankees, brian cashman
Aug 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks with the media before the game between the Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching depth will remain an issue for the Yankees, who have monitored the markets for both Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell, who could command big-time money. Montgomery is reportedly looking to top Aaron Nola’s $172 million contract, and if that’s the money he ends up getting, the Yankees will likely not reunite with him. The question is who exactly will pay a sum of money nearing or surpassing $180 million, as the Red Sox and Mets don’t seem to be playing at the top of the free agent market, and his incumbent team (Rangers) is in the midst of a TV deal fall out.

As for Blake Snell, his market might be more robust as a team like the Giants could try and make an aggressive offer, but that remains to be seen. The 2023 NL Cy Young winner is looking for win-now teams, and this is where a suitor like the Phillies could be a thorn in the Yankees’ side as they might also be a great fit for Snell if he takes a short-term deal with high AAV and opt-outs. Trade targets for the Yankees could be arms like Edward Cabrera or Shane Bieber who won’t cost a haul, but the chance to potentially get an ace like Corbin Burnes is always enticing.

The Yankees have their work cut out for them, but being able to stretch out Yoendrys Gomez as a starter early in the season is now made possible because of that fourth option, and that makes the team deeper in their rotation.

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