Yankees News/Rumors: Yanks have inside advantage on Corey Kluber, Taijuan Walker a pitching target

New York Yankees, Taijuan Walker
Apr 2, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are going to enter the free-agent pitching market at some point, it’s just a matter of who they target. I don’t expect them to be as astronomically aggressive as they have been in the past, considering their financial caution. They are trying to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, so after DJ LeMahieu is hopefully extended, they won’t have much money to work with.

There are a few starting pitchers that could make sense for the Bombers, including former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Taijuan Walker.

MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch stated that the Yankees have an advantage when it comes to Corey Kluber:

The Yankees may have an inside track with Kluber, based upon his long-standing relationship with performance coach Eric Cressey; in fact, Kluber is scheduled to hold a mound session for interested teams on Jan. 13 at Cressey’s Florida facility. If nothing else, they should have an accurate read on Kluber’s talent level. Considering that he is coming off injuries and would likely agree to an incentive-laden contract, that seems like a good fit for the back end of the rotation.

Kluber has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two seasons, so they have to be a bit careful when considering him as an option. Injuries have taken their toll, but if he’s able to return to his former self, the Yankees will have a bonafide ace alongside Gerrit Cole, which is exactly what they’re looking for.

Since he is scheduled to pitch for multiple teams on January 13, I fully expect the Yankees to be in attendance, considering he could be a cost-efficient signing with tremendous upside. At the very least, he can compete for a rotation spot, as he posted a 2.89 ERA back in 2018. He’s not too far removed from a stellar season, so giving him an opportunity is not out of this world.

Should the New York Yankees consider Taijuan Walker?

Walker is another solid option for the Yankees after pitching for the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays in 2020. He posted a collective 2.70 ERA over 53.1 innings. He’s actually a fantastic option, as he’s been relatively consistent over the past three seasons.

Probably not all three, especially if the Yankees augment a rotation that also projects to include Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and Domingo Germán to begin the year. While the door is not closed on a Masahiro Tanaka return, Jhoulys Chacin will compete for a spot as a non-roster invitee, and an addition like Kluber or Taijuan Walker remains possible. It’s easy to imagine one of García, King and Schmidt breaking camp for Opening Day, with the other two remaining on a starting schedule at Triple-A.

He primarily utilizes a fastball, slider and dabbles with a curveball and split-finger fastball, which is a new addition to his arsenal. He hovers in the 93 mph range with his fastball, which is solid enough to get him by. He’s not a high strikeout pitcher but forces a healthy number of ground balls.

Considering the Yankees want to keep the cost down, Kluber seems to be the more efficient option of the two, but Walker does represent quality and could be a good supplement after losing Tanaka, Paxton, and Happ to free agency.