After a long wait, the New York Yankees have now completed their number one priority of re-signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the best hitter in baseball. Maybe now the Yankees can address their biggest need of the offseason the Yankees rotation and bullpen. The Yankees, according to owner Hal Steinbrenner wants to stay under the $210 million luxury threshold; in doing so, it will allow little wiggle room to address the other needs of the team, primarily pitching. The lower than expected cost to resign LeMahieu will definitely help. Here are some targets the New York Yankees could be interested in.
Jake Odorizzi age 30:*
Jake Odorizzi would likely be the most expensive addition to the New York Yankee’s rotation. It is not likely that he would accept a one year contract for less than $15 million. Obviously, he would make a fine second behind ace Gerrit Cole in an otherwise untested bunch of young arms. The question remains if the Yankees will be able or willing to spend to get him in pinstripes. With the Yankees signing LeMahieu for just $15 million annually is now a target the Yankees should consider. Odorizzi last season, like many pitchers, had a poor season but has tremendous potential.
Masahiro Tanaka age 32:
According to WAR, Tanaka is the second-best pitcher still left in free agency after Odorizzi. The Yankees know Tanaka is not affected by the big stage that is Yankee Stadium after just fulfilling a seven-year contract with the team. Tanaka made $23 million with the Yankees in 2020. They will not sign him for anything near that figure. He has not been as dependable for the last two years and was atrocious this past postseason. In two games, he posted an astronomical ERA of 12.37. Tanaka may have played his last season in pinstripes.
Adam Wainwright, age 39:
Wainright is now 39 years old. The fifteen-year pitching veteran would like to resign with the Cardinals, but that doesn’t seem likely after them not making him a qualifying offer. For obvious reasons, Wainwright will be open to signing a one-year deal, which could make sense for the Yankees. Wainwright would likely cost the Yankees in the $10 million range. Last season he was 5-3 with an ERA of 3.15 in ten games.
Corey Kluber age 34:*
Kluber was an ace-type pitcher in 2018, and if healthy, he could return to that pitcher again. Corey Kluber barely pitched at all in his one season with the Texas Rangers because of shoulder problems. The year before, he broke his forearm and only pitched 35 innings for the Cleveland Indians. But the year before that, he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Because of his injuries, his value will be reduced by at least half, meaning the Yankees, if willing to take the risk, would likely get him for $6-10 million on a one-year contract. If healthy, it could be a huge upgrade from Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees are also considering. It’s low risk with possible high reward.
Tyler Chatwood, age 31:
Tyler Chatwood would be costly to the Yankees but could be gotten far cheaper than in 2019. Chatwood, like many pitchers, didn’t have a good year last season for the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA, which will significantly drag down his $13 million in earnings for 2020.
Chatwood has always had tremendous potential that has never been fully realized. He is known as the spin rate king. If Yankee pitching coach and harness that, he could be the one to turn Chatwood into a star. If the Yankees can get him for $5-6 million on a one year deal, it could have big-time rewards for the Yankees.
Yankees need bullpen help.
Brad Hand age 30:*
Brad Hand is probably out of the reach of the Yankee’s financial ability, although he is one of the top relievers in baseball. He would be a good replacement for Tommy Kahnle that went for a two year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hand last year was 2-1 with an ERA of just 2.05, finishing 21 games for the Indians. Getting DJ LeMahieu cheaper than expected could keep Hand in the running.
Archie Bradley, age 28:
Bradley had an impressive year that wasn’t kind to relievers; he pitched in 16 games, going 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Like so many players, he was not given an offer by the Cincinnati Reds. Bradley is desirable as he throws a mix of pitches: A four-seamer and sinker both in the mid-’90s and a wicked knuckle curveball. He also has a changeup. He is a groundball pitcher, which makes him a good fit for Yankee Stadium.
Mark Melancon, age 35:
Melancon is a twelve-year veteran that pitched for the New York Yankees between 2009 and 2010. Melancon has had a very successful pitching career after leaving the Yankees, and he is pitching as well now as he ever has. We know the bright lights of Yankee Stadium don’t affect him. Last season with the Atlanta Braves, he was 2-1 in 23 games with an ERA of just 2.78. Compare that to Aroldis Chapman’s 3.09.
Aaron Loup age 33:*
Aaron Loup’s addition would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look in the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays. After a regressive tenure in Toronto, Loup found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.
*my picks for the Yankees.