Yankees: 3 starting pitchers NYY can target instead of Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Gausman #34 of the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

1. Kevin Gausman

Could the Yankees turn to former Baltimore foe Kevin Gausman?

Kevin Gausman was both my favorite potential cheap deadline target for 2020, and he’s also my favorite short-term rotation addition for the 2020-21 free agency cycle.

When Gausman’s sinker is on, he induces as many grounders as anyone — and coming off 2020, he’s now known for much more than simply being Greg Bird’s high school battery mate (gosh, remember that?).

There’s no mincing words here — Gausman’s a strange pitcher, and he finally turned his high-velocity movement into strikeouts in ’20, whiffing a remarkable 79 in 59.2 with a 3.62 mark in San Fran. The previous season, he cratered in Atlanta (6.19 ERA) before finding himself late in the season in Cincinnati (4.03 in 14 relief appearances and a single start). The year before that? 2.87 stretch run in Atlanta, leading the rotation heading into the playoffs.

There’s always been an “Any Given Sunday” vibe to Gausman since he was a top pitching prospect in Baltimore, and it seemed he pulled it all together during the shortened 2020 season. Even if he’s not fully established as a No. 2 just yet, you’re probably not going to find a more defined skill set on a budget than that of Gausman. His ceiling is steady and his floor is high. Also, he should only cost a one- or two-year deal.