One of the Yankees’ biggest needs this off-season is a starting pitcher after losing Corey Kluber to the Tampa Bay Rays before the lockout commenced. The MLB and players union failed once again to come to a conclusion on Wednesday, further canceling the next two series of the year.
With games now canceled until April, matters continue to look worse for the start of the campaign, but the Yankees still have to plan ahead when/if operations return to normal.
During the first portion of free agency, the Yankees requested and received medicals from several free agents, including Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon, and Yusei Kikuchi.
Rodon is coming off his best season as a professional with the Chicago White Sox, earning a 2.37 ERA with 12.55 strikeouts per nine and and 82.2% left on base rate. He pitched 132.2 innings last season, earning 13 wins and a 4.9 WAR.
Kikuchi on the other hand, recorded a 4.41 ERA with 9.34 strikeouts per nine and a 74.6% left on base rate. He logged 157 innings of action and earned seven wins.
(Actual baseball news: new daily feature during lockout) Yankees requested/received medicals for free agents Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon and Yusei Kikuchi pre lockout. Smart to cover bases since 2nd free agency will be frenzied. SS/SP r needs but they do have 2 good SS prospects.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 9, 2022
With the Yankees receiving medicals on both players, we can be sure they will enter the second portion of free agency with an aggressive mentality, eyeing starting pitching talent.
The team still has Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jameson Taillon returning from injury, which should brew a bit of optimism. Youngster Luis Gil also flashed potential last season, even hitting triple digits with his fastball.
Looking at the two free agent pitchers’ repertoire, Rodon features a fastball, slider, and change up. He threw his fast ball 58.6% of the time at 95.4 mph, up 3 mph from the 2020 season. He also tossed a slider 85.8 mph, getting good break on his pitches. The increase in velocity should entice the Yankees, but Rodon will be looking for a bigger contract coming off a stellar campaign.
Kikuchi is a bit different but still offers solid velocity, throwing his fastball just 36% last year at 95.2 mph. He also incorporates a slider, cutter, and split-fingered fastball. His slider hovered around 82.5 mph and Cutter 91.3. He recorded a 4.16 SIERA and 3.85 xFIP. Rodon sat at 2.96 with his SIERA and 3.17 xFIP, showcasing phenomenal stuff.
General manager Brian Cashman will have to spend a bit of money to solve the No. 2 starting pitching spot, but these two options would fit the bill, especially if they can elevate their production and efficiency.