Yankees news/rumors: Masahiro Tanaka return, Cashman waiting too long in FA, Gary Sanchez update

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka
Oct 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts against the Houston Astros in the second inning in game one of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As winter meetings crawl closer, the New York Yankees are still in the market for starting pitching, along with a bevy of other positions. Of course, the retention of DJ LeMahieu remains plastered across headlines, but the Yankees need to find a starting pitcher sooner rather than later, as some of the better options have been plucked from free agency already.

It seems as if general manager Brian Cashman is taking things slowly, patiently waiting for the market to develop, and taking a more financially cautious approach. The shortened season lead to massive financial losses across the sport, and the Yankees were hit the hardest of any MLB team.

Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that he wants to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, but they do have some money opening up from starting pitchers hitting free agency and Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees reached out to Masahiro Tanaka with a possible extension in mind. He finished a 2020 season with a 3.56 ERA, 43.3% ground a ball rate, and 8.25 strikeouts per nine. While he was inconsistent during the postseason, his velocity hasn’t taken any significant dips, and he can still be a quality picture when called upon.

The major issue is that he’s not necessarily the number two the Yankees have in mind behind Gerrit Cole, but they are excited to gain back Luis Severino and possibly Domingo German for the 2021 season. However, relying on Severino and German would be a bad idea, considering both haven’t pitched in over a year. Waiting this long in for agency to solve positions allows them to save money down the line, as they will settle on players who aren’t driving up a bidding war.

Throwing themselves into the mix for top-line pitchers and starters usually ends up being expensive, so finding injury-prone pitchers with solid production on cheaper deals seems like a possible move. That is what the Yankees did with James Paxton, was suffered through injuries during his career, and they managed to get some solid production out of him before he was shut down during the 2020 campaign.

Starters like Garrett Richards fit that mold and is a starter I expect the Yankees to be monitoring closely. Then there are arms like Corey Kluber, who has only pitched in eight games the past two seasons. Before his injuries, he was one of the best starters in the MLB, and I would be surprised if the Yankees don’t consider him as a potential option during this free agency period.

More news in the New York Yankees universe:

Catcher Gary Sanchez started his winter league season this past week, and he has performed well despite suffering through his usual strikeout barrage.

On Saturday night, Sanchez launched a mammoth blast, showcasing his power once again. He has managed to land some solid contacts, but strikeouts will always be a major factor when it comes to his style. Sanchez is a classic slugger who forfeits strikeouts for home runs, and the Yankees knew that when they committed to him years ago.

The fact that Sanchez is taking this off-season seriously and getting as many at-bats as possible before the 2021 season is an encouraging sign. He clearly wants to retain his starting position, and he’s putting in the hard work to reward the Yankees for their loyalty.