Yankees Sign Mets Castoff Jon Niese To Minor League Deal

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees, in a move that can only be termed surprising, have signed former Mets castoff, Jonathan Niese, to a minor league deal, pending a physical today. He is scheduled to report to Spring Training and will be in competition for a number 3 or 4 spot in the rotation.

The Yankees have added another tier to the competition fighting for the final two spots in the starting rotation by adding lefty Jon Niese to the mix. Niese, who is 30, spent most of the 2016 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, went 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 23 games (18 starts) and finished the season back with the Mets, where he went 0-1 with an 11.45 ERA in six games.

Pending passage of a physical, which is not a given since he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after making only two starts for the Mets, Niese will report to Tampa. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but one would expect his contract to be laden with incentives for reaching a number of plateaus.

In the end, Brian Cashman made a move that certainly can’t hurt the Yankees. The obvious question, though, is will it help them

Niese will join Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa and Chad Green are competing for the fourth and fifth spots.

The Yankees selected Niese from a rather long list of remaining starters that includes, among others with comparable stats and circumstances, Mat Latos (age 29, 7-3, 4.89 ERA) and Dillon Gee (age 30, 8-9, 4.60 ERA).

Niese has spent most of his career with the New York Mets, compiling a record of 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA from 2008 to 2015. Niese was then deemed good enough to be traded to the Pirates in the deal that sent Neil Walker to the Mets. But less than a year later, he was only good enough to be traded back to the Mets for Anthony Bastardo. So, go figure.

On his way out the door from the Mets, Niese reportedly took a shot at his former team saying:

"“I’m sure what I’ll appreciate more than anything is the way (the Pirates) play defense. I’m looking forward to that,” Niese told Pirates writers."

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So, what’s left here for the Yankees, except that they signed another “body” on the cheap in the hope of catching the proverbial lightning in the bottle? And Niese will suddenly “find himself” and return to the form he had with the Mets a full five years ago when he went 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA.

In the end, Brian Cashman made a move that certainly can’t hurt the Yankees. The obvious question, though, is will it help them. Conceivably, Niese could fit into one of the remaining three spots in the bullpen as a long reliever. But, that doesn’t assist the starting staff.

Noticeably, the Yankees continue to shy away from the bigger, though more expensive names, still out there. Colby Lewis ($11 million), Doug Fister ($10 million), and C.J. Wilson ($15 million) are all unsigned for the 2017 season.

Next: Envisioning What The Yankees Will Look Like In 2020

Niese can’t hurt, we’ll see if he can help.