The Yankees signed Corey Kluber in part because of Eric Cressey. Could that happen again?
Once thought to be en route to an incentive-laden $6-8 million contract featuring plenty of escalators, Corey Kluber signed quickly with the Yankees to a straightforward $11 million deal following his showcase.
This was due, in large part, to the organizational influence of Eric Cressey.
Cressey, a renowned independent strength coach for many years, was hired to lead the Yankees’ training and strength and conditioning departments prior to the 2020 season, following a campaign marred by endless muscle tweaks and maladies.
Famously by now, he also came with a years-long relationship with Kluber that he parlayed into a pact with his new club — and Kluber’s simply one of many high-profile Cressey clients who may someday soon find themselves in the Yankees’ crosshairs.
Yes, Max Scherzer’s available next offseason, FYI.
But the Yankees have more pressing needs before then. If they wait a full calendar year to further supplement their rotation with a 37-year-old, then you can mount the attack. But an experienced rotation filler with high upside should still be a part of the offseason plan, so long as the team plans to confidently pass the lowest luxury tax threshold.
Something they better do, lest the Kluber signing be viewed rightfully as an unnecessarily large risk.
A major theorized target in Joe Musgrove came off the board on Monday night — and whether or not you were a believer in the Yankees’ ability to unlock his peripherals, you have to admit he would’ve fit the parameters of a high-upside acquisition. So, what next?
As far as we can see it, there are only two genuine game-changers “available” on the market this offseason: Luis Castillo and Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks. Castillo, we know all about. As of now, the changeup specialist’s price begins at Gleyber Torres, which is coincidentally the same place it ends in the eyes of Brian Cashman.
So, what about Hendricks? Is a full Chicago sell-off possible? Well, why don’t the Yankees press Cressey? After all, Hendricks is his client, too.
You don’t have to sell us on Hendricks — we’ve been in love with him from the jump as a perfect change-of-pace option behind Gerrit Cole in a theoretical playoff rotation.
Hendricks comes armed with the exact opposite of Cole’s arsenal, rarely striking out batters but instead inducing soft, Maddux-like contact with extreme efficiency, twice finishing in the top 10 of National League Cy Young balloting and leading the league with a 2.13 ERA in Chicago’s World Series season of 2016.
How’s he perform in October when the lights are brightest? Glad you asked; a Tanaka-like 3.12 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched.
Could Hendricks be the Yankees’ final rotation target this offseason? Who knows if he’s even on the table. But if the Yanks are wise, he’ll be their next attempted acquisition.
And if the Yanks follow their recently-established pattern, then it’s quite possible.