Yankees: 3 moves that will make NYY a dynasty again

Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees - (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees - (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Yankees, Gerrit Cole
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 23: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning in the game at Nationals Park on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

2. Yankees Rotation Solidification

If the Yanks are going to become a dynasty, they will need to have lights out starting pitching. Cole is now the anchor of the starting rotation. Luis Severino is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery performed on February 27. It normally takes between 12 and 16 months to recover, and Sevy could be back pitching as early as April or May, and more likely at the All-Star break next year for the Yanks.

Domingo German, who is serving a suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, should be ready to pitch at the beginning of next season. He will likely be slotted in the third spot in the rotation (whenever Sevy is back) after his impressive performance in 2019, when he was 20-11 with a 4.52 ERA. He’s struck out 273 batters in 243 career innings pitched.

Thus, once everyone is back and healthy, the Bombers will have three aces ready to throw at the opposition during the season and, importantly, when the playoffs start. What about the fourth and fifth positions in the starting rotation?

James Paxton is a prime candidate to be retained for the fourth spot among the starters, and he could be slotted in the No. 3 position if German has to battle rust upon his return. Paxton was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and struck out 186 batters in 150 innings pitched in 2019. However, the velocity on his fastball is down, and he has struggled a bit out of the starting gate in the pandemic shortened 2020 season following back surgery. This will surely impact his free agency, and may lead towards the Yankees snagging him at an unexpected discount.

Masahiro Tanaka is currently in the last year of a seven-year, $155 million contract as well, and he will be a free agent this offseason. He will turn 32 in November, and the Yanks will have to decide whether or not to resign him.

Masa has pitched fairly well for the Bombers, particularly in the postseason, and he may draw interest from other ball clubs. The Yanks are likely to want to resign him at a reasonable price and contract duration. Yet, if he becomes too expensive, the club may very well take a walk on him, which would be the right thing to do, given his age. Otherwise, he would be the club’s fifth (or fourth) starter. At this point, unless J.A. Happ turns things around, he is probably destined for long relief as he finishes out his career as a Yankee.

The Yanks will likely have a stellar rotation in 2021 and beyond, provided that Severino rehabs well, and either Paxton or Tanaka remains with the Yanks. If the team has to replace one or more of these arms, however, several starting pitching candidates are waiting in the wings, including Jordan Montgomery, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and a couple of others at the lower levels. Or, perhaps, the team may want to pick up another proven starter through a trade or free agency, depending on what opportunities present themselves.