The New York Yankees traded away a significant number of pitchers to acquire both Alex Verdugo and Juan Soto this off-season. In fact, they sent seven arms, which poses some issues in the depth department.
Aside from moving Michael King to the Padres, the Yankees sent mostly prospects with two players expected to make an impact in 2024. Long-inning relief arms and spot starters Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez headed over to San Diego in the deal that brought Soto and Trent Grisham to New York.
Replacing that quality is no easy feat, but the Yankees have one pitcher who is expected to get a good long look during spring training. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees have high expectations for Will Warren, who could emerge as a fifth starter or long relief pitcher.
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What Would Will Warren Bring to the Yankees?
Warren is a 24-year-old right-handed arm who was formally an eighth-round draft pick in 2021. This past season, he pitched 29.1 innings in Double-A and 99.2 innings in Triple-A. He recorded a 3.61 ERA with Scranton, hosting 9.93 strikeouts per nine, a 74.6% left-on-base rate, and a 52.7% ground ball rate.
Fortunately, Warren has been getting better on a year-by-year basis, adding a sinker and upgrading his slider this past season. His slider wasn’t heavily used during his collegiate days, but it is now one of his most dangerous pitches and has good velocity and break. It tops out at about 88 mph and has nasty sweep motion with 3000 RPMs. In addition, his two-seam fastball reaches 95, and his four-seamer tops out at 97. He also has a solid curveball with high spin rates and a good change-up that can attack left-handed hitters with in-breaking movement.
Warren has a phenomenal pitch mix at his disposal, he just needs to continue refining those individual options and gain experience. He certainly has the stuff and strike-out numbers to translate well at the MLB level, and he may have a crack at landing on the active roster this upcoming season. The major concern will be his command, walking 4.24 batters per nine in Triple-A last year, so there is room for improvement. However, his 52.7% ground ball rate suggests he generates weak contact and keeps the ball out of the air.
At such a young age, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Warren could develop into a solid arm. In the worst-case scenario, the Yankees could always try to flip him for a quality bat or an MLB-ready talent in the future, but they need one of their young developmental players to step up and make an impact in 2024.