Yankees linked to high-upside lefty starter, via MLB insider

mlb: los angeles dodgers at miami marlins, jesus luzardo, yankees
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few days, the starting pitching free agent market has become a bit more cloudy. The Yankees reportedly would welcome a deal with Jordan Montgomery, bringing him back to the Bronx following a World Series-winning season with the Texas Rangers.

Montgomery is a good, proven starter with durability. He’s coming off a season where he posted a 3.20 ERA, including a career-high 188.2 innings. In fact, Montgomery has pitched a minimum of 157 innings over the past three consecutive years, suggesting he can be relied on. While he’s not a high strikeout pitcher by any means, he doesn’t give up any home runs and has posted fewer than three walks per nine in each of his last five seasons.

Of course, general manager Brian Cashman would have to be OK overspending on Montgomery coming off his best year yet, but recent reports have indicated that the Texas Rangers lead the pack to extend him following his 2023 campaign. However, the Yankees and Blake Snell are growing steam, with Gerrit Cole suggesting he would love to pair up with the NL Cy-Young Award winner.

There’s no guarantee the Yankees will make a move in free agency, which would mean overspending a bit on a starting pitcher over 30 years old. If Cashman looks to the trade market, ESPN insider Jeff Passan believes that Jesus Luzardo from the Miami Marlins fits the bill.

What Would Luzardo Bring to the Yankees?

Luzardo is a 26-year-old lefty coming off a career-high 178.2 innings pitched last season. He finished with a 3.58 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 10.48 strikeouts per nine, a 74.9% left-on-base rate, and a 40.2% ground ball rate. With the Marlins having control over him until 2027, which would transfer over to any team that acquires the lefty, the Yankees would have to give up a substantial haul in return.

There’s not much optimism that Cashman wants to part ways with even more high-upside prospects, but after sending a significant number of pitchers on their way, utilizing some of his position players could be in the cards. Luzardo has had injury problems in the past, having only pitched over 100 innings twice in his career. However, his upside is legit, featuring a fastball, slider, and changeup combination.

Luzardo’s fastball averages 96.7 mph, generating a .230 batting average, 19.4% whiff rate, and 17.8% put-away rate. His slider, however, is lethal, producing a .233 batting average, 51.8% whiff rate, and 30.1% put-away rate. Luzardo has a gyro slider concept, inducing 36.3 vertical inches of movement and barely any horizontal movement, but his accuracy is tremendous. His fastball produces 14.1 inches of horizontal movement, which is 51% more than the average pitcher this past season. He has a dangerous combination, mixed in with a change-up that rides in on right-handed hitters, creating significant deviation with his fastball at different velocities.

There’s no doubt that Luzardo would be a perfect fit in the Yankees’ rotation, especially adding another lefty arm in a heavily right-handed league. Nonetheless, acquiring him would be costly, but the Yankees are running out of options, especially if Montgomery is plucked off the market and Cashman doesn’t want to wait for Snell’s price tag to come down.

Fortunately, the Bombers are in no rush to make a deal, with several months until spring training heats up. At some point, they will need to invest in the rotation since their available options are either coming off injury or unproven.

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