Yankees sign starting pitcher to minor-league deal, but the upside is there

danny salazar, yankees

The unbelievable success the New York Yankees‘ starting rotation has experienced to open the year is unprecedented. It will be difficult for the rotation to maintain this level of production, meaning they will need to supplement fatigue down the road. After last Sunday’s doubleheader, the Yankees have already called upon Luis Gil to feature.

Gil struggled with his control in his first Major League appearance of the season, which has been a concern of his with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Triple-A. However, the Bombers are still trying to find quality starters that can help down the road, which is why they signed former Cleveland Guardians pitcher Danny Salazar to a Minor League contract.

Salazar is 32 years old and hasn’t pitched since 2019, when he enjoyed just 4.0 innings of an injury-plagued season. His last productive year came back in 2017, when he recorded a 4.28 ERA over 103 innings. There were years when Salazar was considered a quality starter, hosting a 3.45 ERA back in 2015.

It is fair to say that Salazar’s best days are behind him, but with the Yankees bringing on former Cleveland pitching coach Matt Blake, he has a lot of experience with the former Guardian.

Looking back at Salazar‘s top metrics, he hosts a 41.3% career ground ball rate and 75.3% left on base rate. His 12.67 strikeouts per nine were the highest it’s ever been in 2017, but four years later, there’s no guarantee he can even scratch the surface of that number. In a small sample size of action in 2019, his fastball was hitting just 86.5 mph, down considerably from the 95+ average he hosted before 2018.

Signing Salazar to a Minor League deal seems to be more of a last resort situation than an expected impact player. However, having not pitched in multiple seasons and rehabilitated after groin and shoulder issues, there’s a reason to believe there could be untapped potential — the Yankees will go digging for it.

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