Yankees should stay far away from one elite free agent pitcher

mlb: colorado rockies at san diego padres, blake snell, yankees
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The New York Yankees are exploring various options to strengthen their starting pitching rotation, with several left-handed pitchers on the market catching their interest. Among these, Blake Snell stands out as a potential addition, bringing a strong track record from his time with the San Diego Padres.

Blake Snell’s Impressive Performance

At 30 years old, Snell is coming off an elite season, pitching 180 innings, which marks the second-highest in his career since 2018. His 2023 season statistics are impressive, featuring a 2.25 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and an 11.70 strikeouts-per-nine rate. Snell’s high left-on-base and ground ball rates further demonstrate his effectiveness as a pitcher.

Evaluating Snell’s Fit with the Yankees

Considerations for Signing Snell

While Snell’s performance is undoubtedly attractive, the Yankees face a dilemma in terms of investment. Having already committed a significant contract to Carlos Rodon, pursuing another expensive left-handed pitcher like Snell poses a risk. Additionally, Snell’s tendency to pitch only 5-6 innings per game raises questions about his fit for the Yankees’ needs.

Comparing Snell with Yoshinobu Yamamoto

An alternative to Snell is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a younger pitcher with a promising arsenal and the potential to be an ace. At 25, Yamamoto’s consistent performance over the past three seasons, pitching over 170 innings each year, makes him an appealing option for a team looking to get younger and more durable. Both project to earn a contract in the $200 million range — pick your poison.

Assessing Other Left-Handed Pitching Options

Snell’s Exceptional Pitching Skills

However, there’s no question he would significantly boost the rotation since he ranked in the 98th percentile in whiff rate and 94th percentile in strikeout rate with the best Pitching Run Value in baseball and the best Breaking Run Value. His curveball, which he throws 19.8% of the time, generated a .079 batting average against with a 56.3% whiff rate and 83% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher.

Potential Alternatives: Montgomery and Rodon

Should the Yankees decide against pursuing Snell or Yamamoto, Jordan Montgomery emerges as a logical alternative. Montgomery, familiar to the Yankees and coming off a World Series victory, could offer a more cost-effective yet reliable option. Meanwhile, the Yankees also hope for a bounce-back year from Rodon, making further investment in another lefty starter a complex decision.

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