Despite free agency already starting after the lockout ended on Thursday, the New York Yankees have been patient with their approach. Clearly, they have a big fish in mind, but whether that be Freddie Freeman from the Atlanta Braves or Carlos Correa is yet to be seen.
Nonetheless, the team could use another starting pitcher after losing Corey Kluber and the unreliability of several options on the roster currently. Depending on Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jameson Taillon to help hold down the fort may be a foolish move, and their options are dwindling on the open market.
Let’s take a look at several pitchers who could fit the bill if the Yankees want to move swiftly via free agency or trade.
A starting pitcher to sign: Yusei Kikuchi
The best option currently in free agency is Yusei Kikuchi from the Seattle Mariners. Aside from Zack Greinke, who is 38 years old, Kikuchi makes the most sense at just 30.
Kikuchi posted a 4.41 ERA last season over 157 innings. His biggest downside is overall quality innings, but he features the velocity the Yankees like to see with fastballs. The Japanese pitcher features quality-breaking pitches, including his curveball and split finger fastball. He recorded a 4.16 SIERA and 3.85 xFIP last season, two numbers that could improve with better coaching.
In terms of velocity, Kikuchi’s fastball travels at an average of 95.2 mph, with a split-finger fastball at 86.3 and 82.5 mph slider. He also heavily used a cutter last season at 34.6%.
The Yankees might look at Kikuchi and feature his fastball more predominantly, throwing it just 36% last season. Signing him to a one-year deal seems realistic, and the money wouldn’t be much of a problem.
A starting pitcher to trade for: Sean Manaea
If the Yankees want to go the trade route, Sean Manaea from the Oakland Athletics could be a perfect fit. Last season, Manaea through 179.1 innings, recording a 3.91 ERA and 77.3% left on base rate. The righty picture is only 30 years old, standing at 6’5″ and 245 pounds. He posted a 3.68 SIERA and 3.62 xFIP.
The Yankees have been connected with Oakland all off-season regarding a potential trade, mainly about first basement Matt Olson. However, they could shift their attention to Manaea, who averages a 92.2 mph fastball, throwing it 60.2% of the time. He also features a slider and change-up, which he uses frequently.
Manaea is preparing to hit free agency in 2023. Given he only has one year left of team control, the Yankees could like the scoop him up for a few middle-of-the-road prospects.