If the New York Yankees are looking to decrease their level of talent, letting DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka walk in free agency would be a good start. So far, there has been little movement from general manager Brian Cashman — sticking to signing minor-league deals for depth players who may or may not contribute during the 2021 season.
Ultimately, the Yankees will have to make moves eventually, as they lack starting talent in the pitching rotation, and losing DJ would force them to supplement his loss with alternative players. Francisco Lindor was an insurance policy in case DJ did end up leaving, but he has since been traded to the New York Mets, who have made several high-profile moves to compete with the Yankees this off-season.
Cashman seems quite confident that waiting and being patient will pay off, and his hopes are that no other teams offer LeMahieu an astronomical deal, which would force his representatives to compromise with New York.
“I understand by waiting on something you want and trying to find ways to make it happen … comes with risk,” Cashman said last month. “That has a downside to it, too, but there are certain players you feel are more worth the waiting game on, and I think DJ LeMahieu is worth that.”
When it comes to pitching, the Yankees have been connected to former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who pitched for over 25 teams on Wednesday morning, topping out at 90 mph on his fastball. Some might see that as a negative, but Kluber only reached 92 mph in his prime.
He is a significant target given his success in the past and the progress he’s made since missing nearly two full seasons due to injury. However, the Yankees still might want to consider bringing back Tanaka, who has been a consistent pitcher for them and represents quality. He might not be the No.2 they desire behind Gerrit Cole, but he can get the job done and has historically played well in the postseason. Nonetheless, the Yankees are on pace to lose him as well, as a San Diego Padres are considering Tanaka is a potential free-agent signing.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the San Diego Padres are looking at potentially adding Masahiro Tanaka to their ranks.
Even after trading for left-hander Blake Snell and righty Yu Darvish, the Padres are doing background work on multiple free-agent starting pitchers, sources say. One of those pitchers, righty Masahiro Tanaka, has connections to two significant members of the organization – Darvish and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Darvish and Tanaka are friends and Rothschild was Tanaka’s pitching coach with the Yankees from 2014 to ’19. Tanaka suffered a partial elbow tear in ’14, chose rehabilitation over Tommy John surgery and remained largely durable, ranking 18th in the majors in starts since ’15.
This off-season is not playing out as most Yankee fans had hoped, acquiring additional talent needed to compete for a World Series. I’m surprised Cashman hasn’t utilized some of his younger options to acquire better talent in trades.
Blake Snell was a pitcher I viewed as the perfect match for the Yankees, considering his youth and price per year. However, Cashman continues to rely on his young players and sees them as more than just trade pieces. Homegrown talent is important, but when other teams are surpassing you and making the moves necessary to compete for a championship, you can’t remain hesitant.