Yankees ‘unlikely’ to land top free agent starting pitcher

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres, yankees, blake snell
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are taking a sizable risk in the starting rotation, betting on Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes to bounce back from injury. They were dead set on landing Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but he decided to sign a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, uniting with fellow Japanese player Shohei Ohtani.

The Yankees haven’t sported an international prospect in quite some time, and Yamamoto had some of the best upside in free agency. Unfortunately, the Yankees were forced to look to the secondary market, and the options weren’t so pretty.

Montgomery is expected to sign a new deal with Texas, and Blake Snell has an astronomical price tag that should eventually come down but still might be out of the Yankees’ comfort zone.

The Yankees Are Likely Out on Blake Snell

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, it is “unlikely” that the Yankees will make a push for Snell after their initial offer.

General manager Brian Cashman sent Super agent Scott Borris a number for Snell, but it was quickly rejected, and the Yankees pivoted to Marcus Stroman on a two-year, $37 million deal.

It became clear that Cashman was unwilling to give big money to a player over 30 years old, especially an arm like Snell, who won the NL Cy Young award this past season but has been inconsistent throughout his career.

Locking the team into another potentially awful contract may have spelled the end of Cashman’s tenure in the Bronx. Instead, he took a more cost-efficient route with Stroman, which includes a player option if he pitches over 140 innings.

The strategy the Yankees implemented is certainly risky, given their expectations for a few injured players. Rodon needs to put together a strong 2024 season, and Cortes should be 100% healthy coming off a serious left rotator cuff injury. In addition, the Yankees need Clarke Schmidt to rise to the occasion and take a developmental step forward.

Cashman could simply wait until next summer at the trade deadline to make another acquisition, plucking a starting pitcher from a team heading in the wrong direction regarding a playoff appearance. He may be able to secure the talents of a pitcher on an expiring deal to support the team, which would not only be more affordable but would avoid overpaying a free agent.

Instead, signing a solid bullpen arm would be preferable in the near term. With the Yankees taking a big risk in the rotation, they will need a strong bullpen to help stifle any inconsistencies and speed bumps. They have been connected to Hector Neris, who is reportedly looking for a two-year, $20 million deal after rejecting an $8.5 million player option for the 2024 season. Neris is a good player, but $10 million per year for his services may be a bit rich at 34 years old.

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