Yankees sign free agent depth arm to MLB deal

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays
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The Yankees continue to add to their pitching depth by agreeing to a Major League deal with right-handed starter and reliever Cody Poteet according to Joel Sherman, who has spent his entire career as a starting pitcher but could see time out of the bullpen next season. Selected by the Miami Marlins in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the 29-year-old right-hander has a career 4.45 ERA in 19 outings, with nine of them coming as a starting pitcher. He made his MLB debut back in 2021 and since then has shuttled up and down the Marlins’ organization before spending a year with the Kansas City Royals and being released.

As the Yankees continue to shore up on flyers for their pitching depth, they add an arm that the Yankees could try and get more out of in 2024.

Yankees Continue to Add to Depleted Pitching Staff

MLB: General Manager's Meetings
Nov 7, 2023; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media during the MLB General Manager’s Meetings at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to Andy Martino of SNY earlier today, the Yankees are expected to have an ‘active’ month of January, and while that could mean signing one of the top starters on the market such as Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, it also means making depth moves like this one. It will be an MLB deal for Poteet, who recovered from Tommy John Surgery in 2022 and made an appearance for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate late in the season. His Stuff+ of 101 across 28 innings in that season of MLB work back in 2022 would indicate that there’s the upside of a competent depth arm.

His four-seamer sat at 94.9 MPH with 16.5 inches of vertical ride, but he lacks a deceptive release point and relies more on his secondaries to get outs. The primary offering in his repertoire is a changeup that he threw 38.2% of the time with 15.2 inches of arm-side run and nearly 13 inches of vertical separation off of his four-seamer, and perhaps that’s a combination the Yankees think they can get more out of. It’s unusual for a changeup to sport a Stuff+ above 100 since the average Stuff+ on that pitch is below 90, and it could be a difference-maker for him with the Yankees’ player development.

Cody Poteet also possesses a slider that led his repertoire in Stuff+ (119), but it was his worst pitch in 2022 in terms of Run-Value per 100 pitches thrown (-1.6) and could be tweaked to either have firmer velocity and tighter spin or more horizontal break for a true sweeping slider, which the Yankees are known for. His curveball and sinker are offerings that he doesn’t lean on often, and perhaps the Yankees try and find a pitch combination for him that emphasizes two or three of the pitches he feels most comfortable with and ditches unnecessary offerings.

The lack of consistent success missing bats at the Major League or Minor League levels does present concern about a lack of true upside here, but the Yankees have worked plenty of reliever magic in recent memory. His background as a starter could give him opener or multi-inning viability in the bullpen, and with their lack of a true fifth starter, they’ll need to be prepared for the worst if injuries were to occur. It’s a small signing that gives the team another lottery ticket for their bullpen, and perhaps this is another success story in the making for their pitching development.

Worst case scenario is he’s a dud, and it won’t be an expensive roster cut anyways, not much to read into here beyond that.