For New York Yankee fans, we all knew it was coming, but still, now that it’s here, it’s just as much of a shock to know that muscle-bound Tommy Kahnle will no longer be coming out of the bullpen hold a game for the Yankees. Fans all over social media are voicing their displeasure that Kahnle has signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even players like Zack Britton have said it sucks, even posting a photo on Twitter of him walking head down across a field.
During 2017 and 2018, Kahnle was a shining star for the Yankees coming out of the bullpen. In 2019 he was the Yankee staff’s workhorse, pitching in 72 games due to all the injuries. As the season progressed, his bullpen mate Adam Ottavino started to fail, causing Aaron Boone to go to Kahnle as his choice more frequently. Kahnle too tired at the end of the season.
In the shortened Yankee spring training, Kahnle didn’t get many innings in, in fact, only nine innings as the Yankees tried to evaluate the up and coming Yankee pitchers, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Micheal King. In his nine innings, he was 0-1 in nine games with an ERA of 7.45.
Kahnle’s strikeout rate was the highest of his career in 2019. During the postseason, after a short break, he was doing his best to prepare for the upcoming season when it finally started. Before the 2020 season started, Kahnle had this to say:
“I’ve been basically hanging out trying to survive these times you know, it’s crazy. Basically if it nice outside I’ll go to a local field where I used to play high school baseball. As far as workouts, my studio is closed so I can go in there privately and workout by myself and that’s what I have going for me right now.”
Before starting the 2020 season, Kahle was healthy and fit after a strong offseason fitness program; he took off 25 pounds from his hulking 254-pound body and was ready to compete in the 2020 season. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he only played in one game for one inning, striking out three. That was on July 26 in a New York Yankee win over the Washington Nationals. After the game, he reported elbow soreness. On July 31, Kahnle was placed on the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed an injury in his right ulnar collateral ligament.
Kahnle ended up having Tommy John surgery in August, keeping him out for all of the 2020 season and most of 2021. Kahnle was scheduled to be a free agent after the 2021 season. After the World Series, the Yankees did not add Kahnle to the 40 main roster. Instead, they assigned him to Scranton. Kahnle rejected that and chose to be a free agent. Right then and there, it seemed he would not pitch for the New York Yankees again. The Yankees made a mistake by not paying him $750K to keep him in pinstripes. that way, they could have negotiated a new contract for 2021 and beyond.
If there is any somewhat silvery lining in all of this, it’s that he didn’t go with the Dodgers main contender for Kahnle, the Boston Red Sox. At least they won’t be facing his toes on the mound for another same division team.