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.

Will the New York Yankees jump on Mets’ Zack Wheeler in free agency?

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Zack Wheeler

The New York Yankees might not be actively in search of a starting pitcher to supplement the loss of CC Sabathia, especially with Michael King and Deivi Garcia waiting in the wings. Still, the thought of bringing in a top arm is undoubtedly enticing.

General manager Brian Cashman could have three fantastic options to choose from if he elects to add a premium starter, which would make his rotation one of the most intimidating in major league baseball. To start, he has a potential Cy Young Award winner that finished the 2019 season 20-5 with an AL-best 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. His name would be Gerrit Cole, who’s primed to smash the record for the biggest contract for a starting pitcher.

Cole is in line to earn upwards of $30 million per season ($200 million total). The Yankees can afford Gerrit, despite the luxury tax threshold, but their monetary investment might be better allocated in different areas. A cheaper pitcher could be more attractive, which is where former Met, Zack Wheeler, comes into play.

Wheeler will be “cheap” by no means, but he will land a bit lower than Cole on the market. He’s a safe fallback option that is just 29-years-old, similar to Cole, and set career highs in innings pitched (195.1) and strikeouts (195) in 2019. He’s a strong-arm pitcher with a deadly fastball — right down the Yankees’ alley-way. However, Wheeler has the opportunity to sign the Mets’ $17.8 million qualifying offer, but he’s expected to reject considering the pay-day that could be headed his way.

Opening the Bombers’ wallet will be the question Cashman has to face, as he’s been stingy in recent seasons in regards to pitching. He passed on Patrick Corbin last year, a move that could have paid dividends in the postseason, and failed to reel in Zack Greinke at the July 31 trade deadline.

This is a look at what the New York Yankees starting rotation ‘could’ look like given they signed Wheeler:

1.) Luis Severino

2.) Zack Wheeler

3.) James Paxton

4.) Masahiro Tanaka

5.) J.A. Happ

6.) Domingo German

7.) Jordan Montgomery

8.) Michael King/Deivi Garcia

Given the number of pitchers they have, it makes sense to pass on a big-named arm, but with injuries being a severe problem last season, being safe should be a priority.

New York Yankees: The key to beating the Houston Astros in the ALCS

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Taking on the Houston Astros will be a far more difficult challenge for the New York Yankees in the ALCS. They managed to sweep the Minnesota Twins with ease in just three games, as their starting pitching stepped up to the plate and run production was as efficient as ever.

The New York Yankees need to carry their efforts in the ALCS:

The Yankees earned 23 runs over the three-game span and only allowed seven, which attest to their dominance in all facets of the game.

However, the Astros will be more difficult, especially at home. The three-person rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke are incredibly intimidating. Their three starters are far better than the Yankees’ James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino.

The ultimate key for the Yankees in the ALCS is having their starters go more than four innings. Former Bronx Bomber, Alex Rodriguez, broke down why this is so important and how the starting pitching will be the difference between winning and losing for the Yankees.

“No, absolutely not,” A-Rod said. “What works in this long season, which is a marathon, and what works in seven games is another. If the Yankees average four innings a starter again, they will go home. They need 5, 5 1/3 and 6 would be ideal because you 27 outs sometimes for six or seven games.”

The Yankees will start the series on Saturday night in Houston, and they will face cranky, who got torn apart in game three of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay rays. Rodriguez called this game a goliath first goliath series. The similarities between two teams not only offers one of the more exciting showdowns in the postseason, but either side has the forces to win the World Series. It could ultimately come down to who peaks at the right time and the momentum they have going into the second round of the playoffs.

“They can both play the high-low game,” he said. “They can hit home runs or contact or situational hitting. They’re both strong analytical. They have defense. They’re both athletic. They’re both smart and they’re all students of the game.

Did the New York Yankees make a mistake not trading Deivi Garcia?

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

After a 6-1 loss for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Rochester Red Wings, the New York Yankees might have stepped on their foot by not trading youth pitcher Deivi Garcia.

Garcia allowed six runs on eight hits over five innings after escaping the trade deadline and staying put in an impressive Yankees farm system. He’s the youngest player to reach the top level in the minors for the Bombers this year, but he’s struggled as of late due to the different grips on the ball and increased talent.

At just 20-years-old, Garcia has plenty of time to refine his skillset and adapt to the quality of players in Triple-A ball. There’s no rush to call him up to the big leagues just yet unless injuries being to mount and manager Aaron Boone has no choice.

However, he could have been used as a trade piece ahead of the deadline, and several teams were calling for him in a potential deal. The issue was — the Yankees had no leverage and were being asked for far too much in return for a quality pitcher.

They missed out on Zack Greinke, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and more, but staying put might have been the best move considering the asking price for most of the options available.

Was it a smart move for the New York Yankees to keep Garcia?

At such a young age, Deivi has a ton of potential that’s yet to be understood and unlocked. He can turn into an ace-caliber player with a bit more development and experience, but trading him for a proven option is justifiable. There’s no guarantee he will emerge as a starting pitcher in the Big Leagues, and the Bombers needed to add reinforcements to a rotation that has been awful recently.

Not a single starter has an ERA lower than 4.00 and injures piling up with CC Sabathia being moved to the IL. General manager Brian Cashman seems to have more confidence in his pitchers than most, considering the quality they displayed in 2018. They have taken a significant step back, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take two major ones forward to return to glory.

Maybe it’s Larry Rothschild at fault, or perhaps it’s a confidence issue. Something realistically needed to be done, and now we will have to bear the burden of staying put with the current rotation.

 

 

New York Yankees looking into Zack Greinke ahead of trade deadline?

New York Yankees interested in Zack Greinke?

As the July 31 trade deadline creeps up on the New York Yankees, the pressures of finding a starting pitcher are increasing dramatically. The last decent start for the Bombers was on Sunday by CC Sabathia, but he’s since been placed on the 10-day injured list.

With the Blue Jays trading ace Marcus Stroman, the market for quality pitchers took a small hit, but there are still plenty of avenues the Yankees can explore.

One remaining target is Diamondbacks’, Zack Greinke. The 2009 CY Young award winner is having a vintage season. The righty holds a 10-4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 22 starts, and 141 innings pitched. The fact is, Greinke is one of the more consistent pitchers in the league, and that reality alone should make him a top target for the Yanks.

In the last two seasons, he’s eclipsed 200 innings while posting ERAs of 3.20 and 3.21, respectively.

Adding the likes, Greinke would immediately help a struggling rotation that’s littered with inefficient pitchers. After robust campaigns from both James Paxton and J.A. Happ in 2018, nobody expects them to regress to this point.

However, the Yankees would have to give up valuable assets in a Greinke-centric deal. Players such as Deivi Garcia, Miguel Andujar, and Clint Frazier would all have to be on the table if the Yankees even want to approach the Diamondbacks with an offer.

What issue would the New York Yankees face?

In the scenario that the Bombers do acquire Greinke, they would be on the hook for his massive contract. Earning a six-year, $206.5 million contracts in 2015, Zack is still owed $31.5 million this season, plus $32 million in 2020 and 21′. Committing to that type of salary requires some caution, as he’s heading into the back-half of his career and could see a drop-off. However, two more seasons shouldn’t see him degrade that much, and joining a contender might fuel him even further.

 

New York Yankees: Interests Turn to Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

After Marcus Stroman was shockingly dealt to the New York Mets, general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian Cashman, is turning his head elsewhere. Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the best options left on the trade market. These are guys who can fit in with what the Yankees are looking for.

The Diamondbacks said that they are open to selling their veteran players. A deal with the Yankees would most likely send Deivi Garcia, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andujar to Arizona. Many teams have asked for Gleyber Torres but the Yankees have made it clear that he is off-limits. There is also a boatload of Yankee minor league talent that could be dealt away to teams who are looking to rebuild.

Robbie Ray is a 27 year old veteran lefty who is signed on a 1-year, $6 million contact. He’ll become a free agent next year after his eligibility for salary arbitration. Zack Greinke is 35 years old who is signed on a 6-year, $206 million contract which goes into the 2021 season in which after he’ll become a free agent.

Ray holds a 3.91 ERA this season with a 9-7 record. He struggles with command however still get a lot of swing-and-misses. Veteran Greinke is credited to a 2.87 ERA with a 10-4 record. Both arms would swing perfectly with the Yankees offense and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cashman makes a deal that lands at least one of them. These next two days will be interesting.