The Yankees have been excellent in finding quality pitchers in the MLB draft. They haven’t had to spend first or even second-round picks to acquire such talent, finding value in the mid to later rounds and the international prospect pool.
The team’s ability to develop these pitchers has proven to be a fruitful endeavor, having leveraged seven of them to acquire Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo last week. However, they will have to replace two young arms that had plenty of promise and impacted the 2023 season.
Supplementing Brito and Vasquez
Starting with Jhony Brito, a 25-year-old who is projected to be a long-inning relief pitcher and spot starter in 2024, his loss will undoubtedly be felt. Across 90.1 innings last year, Brito hosted a 4.28 ERA and 4.74 FIP, including 7.17 strikeouts per nine, a 71% left-on-base rate, and a 44% ground ball rate. Brito showcased plenty of upside and pitched 136.2 innings across both the minors and majors in 2023.
The Yankees have added a few low-key bullpen pieces that have the capacity to start games in a worst-case scenario but with as much upside as Brito. The San Diego Padres will undoubtedly reinforce their pitching unit in the rotation and bullpen with Brito and Vasquez.
On the other hand, Vasquez is also 25 and displayed upside across 37.2 innings with the Yankees this past year. He finished with a 2.87 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 7.88 strikeouts per nine, an 88.9% left-on-base rate, and a 36.4% ground ball rate. He does walk too many batters at times but gives up weak contact and has enjoyed elevated ground ball rates throughout his entire minor-league career.
[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]
The Yankees Gave Up Substantial Value and Upside
It is safe to say the Yankees gave up a significant amount to acquire Soto, not to mention parting ways with Michael King and their top pitching prospect, Drew Thorpe. General manager Brian Cashman had to cough up a lot of value for just one year of Soto, but it may be worthwhile if they can push toward a postseason that includes a World Series run.
In the meantime, the Yankees are depending on some of their prospects to fill those pitching gaps. Specifically, 24-year-old Will Warren should help the Yankees next season. He was dominant in Double-A last year, hosting a 2.45 ERA across 29.1 innings. He was quickly promoted to Triple-A Scranton, where he tossed 99.2 innings and recorded a 3.61 ERA. Warren has phenomenal breaking pitches, including a 70/70 grade slider and 50/50 grade curveball — elite numbers.
The reason the Yankees were fine sending so many young arms on their way was because of their confidence in developing talent and the hopeful impact of Warren and even Clayton Beeter (also Chase Hampton down the road), who they acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers and exchange for Joey Gallo two years ago. There weren’t many players the Yankees would be willing to spend so much to acquire, but Soto played all 162 games last year and is a Hall of Fame bat in the middle of his career. This is far different than 38-year-old Josh Donaldson, with $50 million left on his contract, in fact, it is the exact opposite.