With movement quiet on the free agency front, the New York Yankees are waiting patiently for the price tags of multiple free agents to lessen in the coming days. In the meantime, two Yankees were named to the 2021 All-MLB team on Tuesday, including Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole.
First Team: Aaron Judge, Yankees
This season was a strong reminder of what Judge brings to the Yankees when he’s able to post up for a full season. After missing 142 games combined in 2018-20, Judge had a .916 OPS, 39 homers and 98 RBIs in 148 games to earn his first All-MLB selection.
First Team: Gerrit Cole
Cole is now a perfect 3-for-3 in making the All-MLB Team, and this is his second First Team selection (also 2019). With a 3.23 ERA, 243 strikeouts and AL-best 5.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 181 1/3 innings, he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting.
Both players had fantastic seasons, and with Judge featuring in 148 games, he proved that he can remain healthy over the course of an entire season. That is a massive step forward for the big slugger as he eyes an extension in the near future.
General manager Brian Cashman already indicated he is preparing to connect with Judge’s representatives over the winter about his future deal, so any free agency moves have to incorporate the financial commitment he will garner.
Cole, on the other hand, had a dominant first half of the year but struggled at times in the second half, especially in the postseason. The Yankees are paying him an exorbitant amount of money to be a dominant pitcher when they need him most, and he failed to accomplish that.
In his lone outing against the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card game, he posted a 13.50 ERA, giving up four hits and three earned runs over just 2.0 innings. The bullpen did their best to keep the Yankees in the game, but lackluster offense saw them fall before making a real postseason push.
The New York Yankees need to add to the starting pitching rotation this off-season:
As stated above, free agency is rather quiet at the moment, but the Yankees are willing to spend big money to acquire a great starting pitcher. Cashman had $25 million on the table for Justin Verlander on a one-year deal, so we know they are willing to spend.
One option is Toronto Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray. Ray featured a 2.84 ERA this past season, posting a career-high 90.1% left on-base percentage and adequate 37.2% ground ball rate. He featured an 11.54 strikeout per nine rate and walked just 2.42 batters per nine, the lowest of his career.
Having his best season in Toronto, it begs the question of what changed?
Ray’s fastball elevated 94.6 mph, a full mile per hour faster than during his 2020 season and 2 mph faster than his 2019 campaign. He threw his fastball the most in his entire career at nearly 60% and utilized his slider as his primary, secondary pitch.
It is clear a change in strategy aided in his campaign, and the Yankees might see even more potential with the 30-year-old lefty.