Yankees lose yet another pitcher to free agency

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, wandy peralta
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees, amidst their quest to strengthen their pitching staff, have been linked to numerous free-agent pitchers this offseason. However, aside from securing Marcus Stroman, their efforts have seen limited success in attracting other top arms to the roster.

Bullpen Prospects and Departures

The team’s search for additional bullpen support has been met with challenges. Hector Neris recently signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs, and the Yankees also missed out on re-signing Wandy Peralta, who agreed to a four-year deal with the San Diego Padres.

According to Robert Murray of Fansided, Peralta’s contract with the Padres is valued at $16.5 million over four years, which equates to an average of approximately $4 million per season — there are expected to be multiple opt-out options and incentives built in.

Peralta, who has been effective for the Yankees in the past, was deemed too costly for a contract extension by General Manager Brian Cashman, especially considering his age of 32. Peralta’s performance in the past two seasons has been commendable, with an ERA below 3.00 and over 110 innings pitched in total.

While there were valid reasons for the Yankees to consider extending an offer to Peralta, the cost was a significant deterrent. Instead, the Yankees might turn their attention to Keynan Middleton, a 30-year-old pitcher who showed promise during his time with the team last year after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox.

Middleton as a Potential Bullpen Asset

In his stint with the Yankees, Middleton recorded a 1.88 ERA and 10.67 strikeouts per nine over 14.1 innings, along with an impressive 87.3% left-on-base rate and a 71% ground ball rate. These numbers indicate a shift in Middleton’s pitching style, as he achieved a 56.6% ground ball rate over 50.2 innings in the previous season.

The Yankees, known for extracting value from under-the-radar players, may find Middleton a more cost-effective and viable option for their bullpen. This approach aligns with Cashman’s strategy of being patient and cautious, waiting for the right opportunity to enhance the team’s pitching staff.

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Looking Ahead: Yankees’ Pitching Strategy

As pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training in approximately two weeks, it seems unlikely that the Yankees will make any further significant moves in the pitching market this offseason. Cashman’s focus appears to be on maximizing value and efficiency, opting for strategic patience over hasty investments in the bullpen. This approach will shape the Yankees’ pitching lineup as they gear up for the upcoming season.