Yankees should stay far away from Yoshinobu Yamamoto fall-back option

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The New York Yankees, renowned for their assertive approach in the market, are anticipated to make a significant impact in the starting pitching arena. With the imminent posting of international sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto, an exciting 45-day period begins, where he will have the opportunity to sign with a Major League club.

Yamamoto, projected to secure a deal around $200 million, offers a blend of youth and endurance, traits highly sought after by the Yankees. Despite his lack of MLB experience, the 25-year-old’s track record of three successive seasons pitching over 170 innings is noteworthy. However, if the Yankees opt not to pursue Yamamoto, their next choice, Aaron Nola, presents a different set of considerations.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Nola

Aaron Nola, linked to the Yankees this off-season, is also in the fray for a lucrative contract, rumored to be in the vicinity of $200 million over seven years. The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher’s recent performance has been a mix of consistency and fluctuation.

Last season, he pitched 193.2 innings, marking his third consecutive season of surpassing 180 innings. However, his 4.46 ERA and 4.03 FIP indicate potential areas of concern despite his low walk rates and modest home run numbers.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees
Apr 5, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (27) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing Nola’s performance over the past three seasons reveals a spectrum ranging from a commendable 3.25 ERA to less impressive seasons with ERAs north of 4.46. This inconsistency introduces an element of risk, although Nola’s regular availability and consistent innings pitched are definite positives.

Nola’s pitching arsenal includes a curveball, four-seam fastball, sinker, change-up, and cutter. His curveball, a frequently used weapon in his repertoire, boasts a respectable .221 batting average against and a significant 33.3% whiff rate. His fastball, although averaging in the low 90s, has maintained a .247 average against.

The Yankees, having already committed a substantial six-year, $162 million deal to Carlos Rodon, face a complex decision. Should they invest a similar amount in Nola or take a chance on Yamamoto, a younger pitcher with potentially high upside in the MLB?

This decision is further complicated by the expected intense competition for Yamamoto, particularly from teams like the New York Mets. General Manager Brian Cashman must navigate these choices carefully, balancing the risk and potential reward as he aims to enhance the Yankees’ pitching roster.

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