Yankees: 3 starting pitchers NYY can target instead of Masahiro Tanaka
By Adam Weinrib
Yankees fans are approaching the sad reality of existing in 2021 without Masahiro Tanaka. These free agent starters could work.
Despite his October stumbles in 2020, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Yankees fan who wouldn’t extend the team’s relationship with Masahiro Tanaka — for the right price.
Then again, though, we might be entering a more annoying offseason than we ever would’ve imagined prior to the ’20 campaign.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has sliced into the finances of all MLB teams, with the Yankees crying poor in recent weeks, claiming the largest losses of any of the league’s members. Whether true or not, a Tanaka contract appears to be very much on the backburner, not to mention a DJ LeMahieu deal or any of the other roster-building necessities we envisioned.
Tanaka was once thought to be a shoo-in to return, but with LeMahieu on the docket and so many holes to fill, it’s quite possible that the “veteran” rotation-fillers won’t quite be of the near-32-year-old righty’s pedigree.
If the Yankees don’t find it in their hearts and their budgets to give Tanaka another shot, these three veteran fill-ins could patch up the rotation. After all, without the familiar vet, it’s just Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino (in July!), Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery.
3. Mike Minor
The Yankees could use 200 innings out of Mike Minor in 2021.
2020 was a tough, shortened campaign for Mike Minor, the 32-year-old lefty who definitely profiles as a 45-year-old throwback pitcher from the early ’90s.
Alas, despite his graying and grizzled physique, he’s just about the same age as Tanaka. Which is crazy! He’s also one year removed from a sterling 2019 season in Texas, which featured 208.1 innings, 200 strikeouts (thanks to some chicanery in the Arlington heat that got the Red Sox all hot and bothered) and a 3.59 ERA.
Frankly, Minor’s been extremely effective every year of his career except for 2020, when he posted ERAs above 5.00 in both stops, starting with the Rangers and zipping to the A’s at the midseason deadline.
The Yankees have a chance to get a genuine innings-eater here on some sort of one-year, Didi Gregorius-like pillow deal. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, and will still have a shot to garner a four-year deal next offseason if he rebounds properly in what should be an almost-normal campaign.
If the Yanks are bargain shopping, banking on a Minor rebound for cheap should be at the top of their list.