Yankees Rumors: Bombers received medicals on two big free agent pitchers before lockout

yusei kikuchi, mariners, yankees

One of the Yankees’ biggest needs this off-season is a starting pitcher after losing Corey Kluber to the Tampa Bay Rays before the lockout commenced. The MLB and players union failed once again to come to a conclusion on Wednesday, further canceling the next two series of the year.

With games now canceled until April, matters continue to look worse for the start of the campaign, but the Yankees still have to plan ahead when/if operations return to normal.

During the first portion of free agency, the Yankees requested and received medicals from several free agents, including Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon, and Yusei Kikuchi.

Rodon is coming off his best season as a professional with the Chicago White Sox, earning a 2.37 ERA with 12.55 strikeouts per nine and and 82.2% left on base rate. He pitched 132.2 innings last season, earning 13 wins and a 4.9 WAR.

Kikuchi on the other hand, recorded a 4.41 ERA with 9.34 strikeouts per nine and a 74.6% left on base rate. He logged 157 innings of action and earned seven wins.

With the Yankees receiving medicals on both players, we can be sure they will enter the second portion of free agency with an aggressive mentality, eyeing starting pitching talent.

The team still has Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jameson Taillon returning from injury, which should brew a bit of optimism. Youngster Luis Gil also flashed potential last season, even hitting triple digits with his fastball.

Looking at the two free agent pitchers’ repertoire, Rodon features a fastball, slider, and change up. He threw his fast ball 58.6% of the time at 95.4 mph, up 3 mph from the 2020 season. He also tossed a slider 85.8 mph, getting good break on his pitches. The increase in velocity should entice the Yankees, but Rodon will be looking for a bigger contract coming off a stellar campaign.

Kikuchi is a bit different but still offers solid velocity, throwing his fastball just 36% last year at 95.2 mph. He also incorporates a slider, cutter, and split-fingered fastball. His slider hovered around 82.5 mph and Cutter 91.3. He recorded a 4.16 SIERA and 3.85 xFIP. Rodon sat at 2.96 with his SIERA and 3.17 xFIP, showcasing phenomenal stuff.

General manager Brian Cashman will have to spend a bit of money to solve the No. 2 starting pitching spot, but these two options would fit the bill, especially if they can elevate their production and efficiency.

Projecting the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation for the 2022 season

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Although reaching the Wild Card game last season, the New York Yankees had a really rough year with a struggling lineup that could do nearly nothing to win games. The only two in the lineup that performed as expected, was slugger Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Other than those two, for the most part, the rest of the lineup was impotent.

It was the Yankees’ sketchy pitching rotation that carried them through the season to the Wild Card game, in which they fell to the Red Sox, again ending their dream of another postseason appearance.

The 2021 season started with Gerrit Cole, the Yankee ace leading the rotation, followed by two other pitchers that hadn’t pitched in the majors for a few years due to various injuries and surgeries. Following Cole were Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. In the four-slot, five-year veteran Jordan Montgomery. The fifth spot was supposed to be Domingo German, but he quickly failed, and no less than six other pitchers filled that fifth spot during the season.

As one might have projected that both Kluber and Taillon would be injured during the season, leading to Kluber to pitch only 80 innings. Kluber did pitch the first Yankee no-hitter in twenty-two years, but even he didn’t have much of an impact on the season. With both Kluber and Taillon injured, the Yankees were about to observe the biggest surprise of the season, the emergence of Nestor Cortes Jr.

Cortes Jr. burst onto the scene from the bullpen to be one of the Yankees’ most dependable starters.

Looking ahead at the quickly approaching 2022 season, as of this point, it looks like most of those familiar faces will again attempt to get the Yankees to the postseason and a chance for a 28th World Championship. The Yankees, when the lockout is over, still have a chance to hire a free agent, like, Carlos Rodon, or trade for another legitimate number two starter (Chris Bassitt). Without that knowledge of what the Yankees will do, after calling their present rotation all they need, we will have to assume they will go with what they have.

If that is the case, we will, of course, see Gerrit Cole leading a rotation that General Manager Brian Cashman has had plenty of time to think about. The tall Cole battled his way through the ‘spider tack’ scandal to end up 16-8 with a 3.23 ERA for the Yankees. Although he had a sub-par two innings on the mound in the AL Wild Card game, he nevertheless finished the season second in the AL Cy Young voting.

Following Cole will likely be Jameson Taillon. He pitched above average in the Bronx last season. When nobody in the Yankees rotation was healthy, Taillon was out there game after game. The former Pirate logged a 4.30 ERA, pitching 144.1 innings. In 18 games, he posted an 8.73 strikeout per nine rate but a career-low 33.2% ground ball rate. An injury late in the season led to an offseason surgery to repair the partially torn tendon in his right ankle. He should be good to go by Spring Training, according to many reports. To make him a true number two starter, he will need to induce more ground balls and be the best version of himself in the coming season.

Next up should be Luis Severino. This might be a stretch as he has hardly pitched at all since his 19-8 2018 season. The twenty-seven-year-old coming back from Tommy John surgery and hamstring injuries in rehab last season is loaded with talent. However, with the lack of pitching for so long in major league games, the Yankees can only guess how he will fare this season. But now, being fully healthy, the Yankees will look for the righty to have a productive season.

The annual solid Jordan Montgomery will be stepping onto the mound next in the rotation. The 6’6″ lefty started 30 games for the Yankees last season with a 6-7 record and an ERA of 3.83. He pitched much better than his stats would suggest, as he got nearly no run support from the Yankees’ lackluster lineup. Montgomery may well be the key to a successful Yankee season. They need him to be solid in the middle of the rotation.

The starter to anchor the rotation creates the most intrigue. It will most likely be Nestor Cortes Jr, but also don’t be surprised if the Yankees choose Luis Gil, who was also successful for the Yankees in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, Cortes Jr., who made his major league starting debut last season, has deserved a place in the starting rotation. Gil is the likely backup if Cortes Jr. can’t replicate his last season’s success.

Outside of the pitchers mentioned, one thing that makes the Yankee rotation so formidable is the pitchers they have in the wings, should any of the starters become injured. There is Domingo German, who was the Yankee ace in 2019 with an 18-4 record. German was suspended for all of 2020 for his involvement in a domestic incident. Upon his return, he was 4-5 in 18 starts last season. The question with German is that he can be inconsistent. When he is on, he is lights out.

The Yankees also have Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, and a bevy of relief pitchers that are more than competent to start games. Should the Yankee starters fail in any of their starts, the Yankees, even without Zack Britton, out for most of the season, still have some of the most effective relievers in the game. Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, and Clay Holmes all could be Impactful. The Yankees hope that closer Aroldis Chapman can return to form this season. If he stumbles, Jonathan Loaisiga has risen to the next logical choice. He was 9-4 last season with a tiny 2.17 ERA and five saves to his credit.

Yankees News: Tampa Bay player has awesome thing to say about Gerrit Cole, high upside starting pitching free agent

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Despite coming up with a dud in the Wild Card game for the New York Yankees, ace Gerrit Cole is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s had minor inconsistencies over the past two seasons after signing a lucrative nine-year, $324 million contract worth $36 million on average per season.

This past year, Cole finished with a 3.23 ERA and made a strong push for the Cy Young award. He posted a 12.06 strikeouts per nine rate, 77.9% left on-base percentage and 43.1% ground ball rate, his highest since joining the Yankees.

While his 16 wins were impressive, he picked up eight losses over 181.1 innings. After the MLB cracked down on spider tack, Cole saw a spin rate and velocity reduction.

However, he did throw his fastball at 97.8 mph, the highest of his entire career. He also threw his change up 89.9 mph, another career-best. However, he saw a big influx in change-up usage at 14.2% this past season, the highest of his career. His fastball dipped to 47.3% after throwing it more than 50% of the time since 2018.

Despite minor changes to his game, Cole was still a daunting task for many hitters, especially Brett Phillips of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Phillips claims that Cole is the best pitcher he’s ever faced, striking out all five times and making him feel like he never played baseball before.

Cole can have that elite effect on hitters, but he does have issues giving up home runs at times, which can overshadow his hard work.

Carlos Rodon makes the most sense for the Yankees:

One way or another, the Yankees desperately need to find a complement to Cole in the number two starting pitching spot. One free agent option is Carlos Rodon, who’s coming off his best season in the MLB with a Chicago White Sox.

Rodon turned in a 2.37 ERA this past season over 132.2 innings. He picked up 13 wins with a 12.55 strikeout per nine rate and 82.2% left on-base percentage.

The 29-year-old starter saw significant increases in velocity, throwing his fastball 95.4 mph after hitting just 93 mph in 2020. Clearly, a change in fundamentals impacted his play in a positive way. He saw career highs in velocity with his fastball, change-up, and slider. He utilized his fastball on 58.7% of his pitches, another high.

While Rodon may command significant money, the Yankees might be able to overspend on a year over year basis to keep the contract short given his small sample size of success. Nonetheless, his upside is exciting for a team in free agency, and the Yankees may need to take a gamble on a player of his talents.

Early predictions for the New York Yankees 2022 season

carlos rodon, yankees

The New York Yankees fell short last season, only making it to the Wild Card game, which they lost to the Boston Red Sox. In the off-season, the Yankee front office has done next to nothing to improve the team for the 2022 season.

In post-season 1.0 before the lockout, the Yankees mostly sat on their hands, watching other teams make significant acquisitions to give them a better chance at reaching the post-season. All the Yankees did was firm up a new coaching staff and hire a few minor leaguers.

Considering that they have done little, it makes it significantly challenging to make any predictions for the 2022 season, but as of this point, with the holes they have to fill, it is not looking good for the team that has won 27 World Championships. But today, just for fun, we will try to do just that.

The 2022 team:

If the New York Yankees are genuinely committed to improving the team for 2022 by filling the holes with quality players, the Yankees should do well. With an active off-season last year, they made it all the way to the wild card game that they lost to the Boston Red Sox. It wouldn’t take much to at least take the division and beyond.

New Yankee shortstop:

The Yankees will probably not sign Carlos Correa, the leading free agent still available. It is more likely they will go the way of a stop-gap measure while waiting for Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to develop fully. Don’t be surprised if you see Gio Urshela staffing the shortstop position at the season’s start. This is more likely if the Yankees trade for Matt Chapman, who would replace Urshela at third base.

Yankees will have an everyday first baseman:

If the Yankees come out swinging when a new CBA is signed, and if they are aggressive in making a blockbuster trade with the Athletics, you will see Matt Chapman at third base and Matt Olson as the new Yankees first baseman. If not, it appears they will resign Anthony Rizzo, who is an upgrade to the oft-injured Luke Voit. Voit will likely be part of a trade package.

Yankees still lacking strength in center field?:

The Yankees, with other important things to do, will likely rely on Aaron Hicks to be their everyday center fielder. They probably will not be willing to spend any money in center, depending on call-ups if Hicks is injured. Center fielder Brett Gardner has probably seen his last days in pinstripes. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees take a long hard look at Odúbel Herrera. If perchance the Yankees decide to go big, look for them to import Seiya Suzuki.

Yankees finally round out starting rotation:

The Yankees will likely depend upon the minors, more than in past seasons, to shore up a less than perfect starting rotation. It may not be until right before spring training, but they will secure a number two starting pitcher. The most logical out there is Carlos Rodon. But with the Yankees’ history of searching out under-the-radar players, they may put a package together to entice Derek Jeter to let go of Elieser Hernandez, who thrived during the 2020 playoffs. Also in the mix of possibilities is Caleb Smith of the Diamondbacks and Yuseil Kikuchi of the Mariners. With the Yankees offering Justin Verlander $25 million on a one-year deal, it seems the Yankees are willing to spend.

Gerrit Cole is again in the Cy Young race:

Gerrit Cole has fallen short in his two seasons with the Yankees by not getting them to a World Series and a 28th World Championship. He will most likely pitch well during 2022 and be in the running for another Cy Young Award, something he has never won. But the Yankees need him to be better, more Astros-like, where he pitched better than he has as a Yankee. Certainly, some run support would help.

Aaron Judge to be a Yankee for life?

Unless the Yankees are just plain stupid, before the end of the 2022 season, the Yankees will finally make slugger and right fielder Aaron Judge a Yankee for life. He is the glue that holds the team together, he is a leader, and he is the franchise’s face. The only question that could hold this short is if he doesn’t have a healthy season. He has only had two healthy seasons with the Yankees, 2017 and 2021. If his health is again an issue, that extension is in question. On the other hand, if he has a year like last year, he can probably count on a five or six-year extension that will net him somewhere between $180 and $210 million.

Players that may shine in 2022:

Under the category of underperformers, there is no reason to believe that Gary Sanchez or Gleyber Torres will turn a page and become stars again. However, there could be some surprises. Joey Gallo could lead the team in home runs. Aaron Hick, as unlikely as it seems, could stay a healthy and robust force behind the plate. Gio Urshela, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton will again shine in 2022. In addition, we may see some other shining stars should the Yankees put their pocketbook where their mouth is.

As I said earlier, this is very early to be making 2022 predictions. However, I, along with many other writers, will again make predictions once we see what the Yankees will or will not do before the start of the season.

Yankees face serious pitching challenges that must be addressed

carlos rodon, yankees

Before the MLB lockout, the New York Yankees took a wait-and-see approach to obtain any needed players to fill the holes in the 2022 staff. We all know the Yankees need a shortstop, a number two starting pitcher, a first baseman, and help in center field. But, general manager Brian Cashman sat on his hands while many of the best options were acquired by other teams.

All but one of the biggest shortstop names are no longer in free agency. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager went to the Texas Rangers, and Javier Baez went to the Detroit Tigers. So that leaves just Carlos Correa and Trevor Story, both of which will demand at least $30 million contracts per annum based on what the other big names have gotten.

The Yankees saw the top 20 free-agent pitchers on the pitching front already scooped up. Max Scherzer went to the cross-town Mets. Robbie Ray went to the Seattle Mariners, Kevin Gausman to the Toronto Blue Jays, Eduardo Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers, and Marcus Stroman was scooped up by the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees did make a play for Houston’s Justin Verlander, but he ended up signing back with the Astros.

There aren’t many premium-type starters left for the Yankees to choose from with all of those big signings. When the Yankees failed to resign 2 time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, it left a big hole in the Yankee starting rotation. Right now, Jameson Taillon seems to be the only Yankee starter to move up to the number two spot, but he is still rehabbing and likely won’t give the Yankees that one-two punch they will need to get to the postseason.

There are some options out there for the Yankees, but they are not significant upgrades from Taillon. So the Yankees may have to go the trade route. There are a couple of big names still in free agency. Clayton Kershaw is out there, but for an aging pitcher that isn’t as good as he once was, the Yankees won’t want to spend $30+ million for him. There also is the less expensive Zack Grienke of the Astros, but with his history of anxiety, the bright lights of New York are not the best fit for him.

Jameson Taillon came to the Yankees via trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and may again look to them to solve their pitching problems. Pittsburgh does deal, so could a trade be made for their ace Mitch Keller?

Even though the Pirates ace, Keller is not a great pitcher, he could eat up a lot of innings for the Yankees. He had a good season in the short 2020 season, but not so much in 2019 and 2021. Last season he became the first NL pitcher since 1938 to have back-to-back 5+ no-hit innings. But his 2021 record of 5-11, 6.17 ERA, 1.788 WHIP certainly isn’t something the Yankees will want. Keller has been on the verge of greatness. Could Matt Blake take him over that plateau?

The Yankees could also consider Carlos Rodon. Rodon had a 2.37 ERA last season with the Chicago White Sox, but that was his only good season. Last season his pitching velocity increased by about three miles per hour. That will be something the Yankees will be looking at.

Rodon posted a 2.37 ERA this past year, representing his lone successful season. The Yankees might be able to get away with offering Rodon a three-year deal with an out after the second season by increasing his pay per season to sweeten the offer. Of the pitchers out there, he might provide the only one-two punch the Yankees will be looking for going into the 2022 season.

Beyond that, Cashman will have to work his magic with under-performing pitchers with an upside that he feels will fit in New York and could benefit from working with pitching coach Matt Blake, much like he did with James Paxton and J.A. Happ.

3 starting pitchers the Yankees could pursue when free agency 2.0 starts

clayton kershaw, yankees

Before the lockout commenced, the New York Yankees had a one-year, $25 million deal on the table for Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. Verlander elected to stay with his present team on a two-year, $50 million deal, which includes a player option for the second season.

Clearly, the Yankees understand they need to find another quality starter to pair with Gerrit Cole, given his inconsistencies toward the end of the season in 2021. They hoped Verlander would offer them that quality, and after missing on the majority of talented players during the earlier portions of free agency, they will have to dabble in the secondary market when the lockout finally ends.

Three pitchers the Yankees should consider when free-agency opens back up:

1.) Carlos Rodon

One of the top starters on the market is Carlos Rodon, who had his best season to date in 2021. Starting 24 games for the Chicago White Sox, Rodon posted a 2.37 ERA, 12.55 strikeouts per nine, and an 82.2% left on base percentage. He collected 13 wins over 132.2 innings, seeing his velocity and spin rate increase significantly. Notably, he used his fastball on 58.7% of his pitches, the highest of his career. His secondary pitches are a slider and changeup, slowly inching away from using his sinker, which he factored in earlier on in his career.

If the Yankees are able to sign Rodon on a shorter-term contract, it might be a good move with high upside. Considering he has just one proven year of fantastic play, committing for more than two years would be overly optimistic. A two-year deal with a third-year team option might suffice.

2.) Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw has dealt with his fair share of injuries in the past but has also pitched in over 100 innings in every one of his 14 MLB seasons, aside from the abbreviated Covid campaign in 2020.

This past year with Los Angeles, Kershaw posted a 3.55 ERA with 10.65 strikeouts per nine and a 71.7% left on base percentage. As a lefty pitcher, the Yankees would love to have more diversity in their starting rotation, but he has seen a significant drop-off in velocity, relying more on his slider in recent years.

Kershaw’s fastball was used on just 36.8% of his pitches, hovering around 90.7 mph. His slider saw a 47.5% usage, the highest of his career. He also incorporated his curveball in a fair amount at 15.1%. Kershaw would likely cost a pretty penny, but the expectation is that he stays with the Dodgers, given his lengthy tenure there. However, if he becomes available, the Yankees will undoubtedly have their name in the hat, considering the lack of options on the market.

3.) Zack Greinke 

If the Yankees want to take a bigger risk, 38-year-old Zack Greinke also presents a historically solid pitcher. This past season with Houston, he earned a 4.16 ERA, winning 11 games and posting a 6.32 strikeout per night rate. Greinke isn’t known for his strikeout abilities but has an awesome sequence of pitches at his disposal.

Greinke contains a fastball, sinker, changeup, slider, and curve ball, using all of them a fair amount. His fastball has experienced a dramatic drop-off in speed, hovering around 89 mph in 2021. However, given his spin rate and great pitch movement, he could be a decent option for one or two years at the back end of his career. He might not be the number two he used to be, but it seems he still has a bit of juice left in his arm.

New York Yankees: Don’t waste time, all the news in one place

jonathan villar, mets, yankees

Yankee slugger Aaron Judge makes bold prediction

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been full of surprises this off-season. So far, the headline is that he married his long-time girlfriend, Samantha Bracksieck two weekends ago in a secret tropical wedding at Maui, Hawaii. But, that’s not all; he has now made a bold prediction.

Last season Judge had a beast of a season, carrying the team on his back, in his first fully healthy season since 2017. He hit .287 with 39 home runs while batting in nearly 100. He now has made the bold prediction that he will hit at least 50 home runs during his 2022 campaign. Looking at it seriously, it’s not out of the question. He hit 57 in 2017. The question will be if he can stay healthy to accomplish the lofty goal.

With Judge becoming a free agent for the first time at the end of the 2022 season, the other big question is if the Yankees will offer him a mega-contract keeping him as a lifelong Yankee. Unfortunately for the Yankees and Judge, will it get ugly when it comes time to do that? Most of it will depend on staying healthy two seasons in a row. If he can’t, the Yankees will be reluctant to extend him long-term.

Where will all the remaining big names end up?

If you want to believe Sports Illustrated, post-CBA doesn’t look good for the Yankees as it predicts where all the big remaining names will go, none of which go to the Yankees. The big bait out there, Carlos Correa, regardless of the news, will probably end up with his old manager A J Hinch, who is now managing the Detroit Tigers. Another big name favored by the Yankees, Freddie Freeman, will resign with the Atlanta Braves.

The Yankees have been targeting Trevor Story for a shortstop replacement. SI that previously had him going to the Rangers have switched gears and are now sending him to the Houston Astros to fill the Correa gap. There haven’t been many predictions that show a quality starting pitcher to the Yankees, but recently the name Carlos Rodon has come up as a possible fit for the Yankees; quell that, SI has him going to the rival Boston Red Sox.

You can also scratch outfielder and catcher Kyle Schwarber from playing in the Bronx; he will be going to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only signing that seems safe is the first baseman Anthony Rizzo returning to the Yankees. In a bizarre suggestion, there are some rumors that nut-case Zack Grienke of the Astros could end up with the Yankees. Let’s hope not.

How are the Yankees doing in Winter Ball?

Several Yankees have played winter ball in the Dominican Republic; their results aren’t exactly promising. Aaron Hicks played in 12 games, not producing; the only thing he has shown the Yankees is that he can stay healthy for twelve games. Miguel Andujar has been nothing short of a disaster in winter ball, hitting .161 and no home runs in eight games. He has to be hoping he will be traded with no position to play with the Yankees and his below-average defense.

Estevan Florial wasn’t much better; he hit .167 in nine games. Once a top Yankee prospect, his halo is quickly dimming. Florial has power and speed as his main attributes, but to show those off, you have to hit the ball; he strikes out far too much to be of any value.

On the pitching side, Luis Media was 0-0, 4.92 ERA, two starts, 3 2/3 IP, 6 K, 4 BB. Baseball America ranks Medina as the team’s No. 9 prospect, primarily due to his high 90s’ fastball. Don’t look for Media to be a starter for the Yankees any time soon. His lack of control challenges his fastball. He will probably start the season with the AA Somersets. If he starts at Scranton, he could be a piece out of the bullpen for the Yankees.

Right-hand pitcher Albert Abreu went 3-3, 2.25 ERA, 6 starts, 24 IP, 11 K, 10 BB. Abreu’s ERA is impressive, but he walks too many hitters. He will likely be in the Yankees bullpen as a last resort piece with his history and numbers. Catcher Rob Brantly didn’t exactly ring any bells in winter ball. He hit .125 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K, 0 BB, 8 AB, 2 games. Nevertheless, he will end up as the number one catcher at Scranton and the backup for Kyle Higashioka in the Bronx.

Now on the bright side: Outfielder Michael Beltre hit .293 with five RBIs, nine strikeouts, and two walks. He will likely start the season with the Rail Riders with his outfield depth and excellent showing at double-A Somerset. Should we have trouble in center, you could see him with the big team sometime in the season.

The most encouraging sign for the Yankees is Wandy Peralta, the righty that made an impact last season. In winter ball, he went  3-0, 3.72 ERA, 11 appearances, 9 2/3 IP, 15 K, 3 BB. He looks to be a mid to late-inning reliever again this season in the Bronx.

Is Jonathan Villar a fit for the Yankees?

There has been recent talk that Jonathan Villar could be a stop-gap measure for the Yankees, not at short but at third base. That move would require the Yankees to move Gio Urshela to short, where he performed well last season when needed.

With Anthony Volpe and Osward Peraza in the wings and probably ready for the 2023 season, the Yankees don’t appear to be ready to hire a big name to fill the spot at short, long term. Villar hits better than most stop-gap shortstop options out there but is not much of an upgrade for Torres at short, thus the third base suggestion where his defense is better. Villar has speed but lacks the home run numbers the Yankees would like to see. He may be a fit, but it also piques the question: What will become of DJ LeMahieu if the Yankees sign Anthony Rizzo as their 2022 first baseman?

Yankees create a bright Christmas for Bronx youth

For the twelfth year in a row, the Yankees have held their Christmas toy even to benefit the underserved kids of the Bronx that surrounds Yankee Stadium. Their Winter Wonderland Event Friday has delivered thousands of toys to local school children.

“Everybody knows the Yankees for being a champion on the field, but that same drive and focus is part of our commitment to being a productive member of this community,” said Brian Smith, the Yankees’ senior vice president of corporate community relations. “We’re happy to put a smile on these young peoples’ faces during the holiday season.”

In years previous to 2020, the event was held in the big hall at Yankee Stadium, where a child could come in a pick a toy of their choice. Unfortunately, last year and this year, that could not happen due to Covid restrictions. This season the event was held outside Yankee Stadium, but most of the toys will be distributed by the New York Yankee Partners right up until Christmas day.

Yankees could take big risk in free agency to land high upside starting pitcher

carlos rodon, yankees

The New York Yankees have a long way to go before they can compete for another championship, having missed an opportunity to contend for the final series of the year in each of their last 10 seasons. General manager Brian Cashman has been given an open checkbook on a number of occasions to acquire talented players capable of leading them to a World Series, but their unfortunate player development has hurt the team tremendously, with options like Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and even Clint Frazier failing to reach their potential.

The pitching department has also experienced a myriad of failures, with Domingo German stalling his progress after domestic violence case saw him banned for half a season and Luis Severino dealing with significant injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries.

Cashman has tried to supplement those weaknesses with oft-injured pitchers hitting free agency or trading for suspect arms. Acquiring Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon last year to help lead the charge of the starting rotation was part of that strategy.

Unfortunately, neither were able to piece together successful campaigns, as Kluber spent the majority of his season on injured reserve, and Taillon struggled considerably with location issues and velocity.

Cashman will once again be scouring the free-agent market when the lockout eventually comes to an end in the next few months. One name he may target is former Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon. Rodon, who has had his own injury issues in the past, posted a 2.37 ERA over 132.2 innings this past season.

Rodon collected 13 wins, a 12.55 strikeout per nine rate, and a career-high 82.2% left on-base percentage in 2021. His primary pitches are his fastball, slider, and change-up. He threw his fastball 58.6% of the time in 2021, hitting a career-high 95.4 mph on average. In fact, all three of his primary pitches increased exponentially in velocity, showcasing a change in fundamentals and throwing dynamic.

If Cashman could land Carlos on a one-year contract, the Yankees might be able to exercise his newfound success. Considering his inconsistencies in the past, a short-term deal would be ideal for the Bombers, but it would likely cost them a nice chunk of change. Somewhere in the $15-20 million per season range might get it done, but it is possible a needy team offers him a multi-year contract, which would be inadvisable.

Alternatively, the Yankees could turn their attention to Clayton Kershaw, who is also considered injury-prone. Nonetheless, he’s more of a proven commodity and will provide a bit more reliability in terms of quality. Rodon has really only experienced one year of dominant play, but his upside is fantastic and could give the Yankees a significant edge behind Gerrit Cole.