The New York Yankees are going to have some financial fun this offseason, but the party shouldn’t just be relegated to the upper echelon of free agents.
Justin Verlander? Sure, have at him, if you want. He shouldn’t prevent Brian Cashman from adding depth or filling out the rotation, in a just world.
At the moment, that rotation sits packed with high-upside arms, but only if everything breaks perfectly. Gerrit Cole is paid to be an ace, and he did just that outside of a few weeks post-hamstring injury. Behind him, Jameson Taillon proved he can be “Pitcher of the Month” effective when healthy, but he’ll be opening the season in rehab. Luis Severino has been penciled into a top spot, but you saw how impossible it was to get him back to full strength last year; it felt like a character in a Stephen King novel fighting back against a world designed to defeat him.
Jordan Montgomery is Jordan Montgomery, which is to say he’s quite good. Nestor Cortes Jr. will be a valuable swingman. There are names here, but not so many names that the roster-building should just stop.
Innings eaters become more valuable every year when the rotations get tinier and tinier by October. If you’ve got a dedicated No. 5 starter who can stay mostly healthy and deliver 160-170 innings of above-average baseball, thus keeping the premium arms a little fresher for the stretch run, that’s enormous.
Nobody wants a bullpen game in October, but every recent champion has had four or five completely trustworthy relief arms entering the postseason. It’s felt like, in recent years, the Yankees have never had more than two due to their workload issues (except, ironically, in 2021, when everything lined up perfectly until they simply got whomped).
We’re fine with the Yankees taking a chance on Verlander’s upside in an effort to create an utterly fearsome top of the rotation, but they need to supplement that with one more one-year flyer to help out the back end.
With all apologies to Carlos Martinez (who’s falling apart), Dylan Bundy (who fell apart and puked on the mound), and James Paxton (still not healthy yet), these are our one-year, $8.5 million selections — aka, “Spend Andrew Heaney’s Money”.
These 3 forgotten starting pitchers can help the New York Yankees.
3. Anthony DeSclafani
Nobody … really seems to be talking about Anthony DeSclafani’s availability, but he’s among the complete exile of arms from San Francisco’s 107-win bunch last year. Is everyone just chalking his success, as well as that of his teammates, up to luck and Bay Area magic? Because it really seems like genuine strides were made here.
It’ll likely take a multi-year deal to woo DeSclafani this offseason, but two or three years at $10 million AAV seems like a reasonable price to pay. Freehold, New Jersey’s own turned 31 this year, but is coming off the best season of his career — after a pretty solid 2019, too (166.2 innings, 167 Ks with the Reds). In 2021, he hit the same innings plateau (167.2 this time) with only 152 strikeouts, but posted a far superior FIP (3.62 vs 4.43) and WHIP (1.09 vs 1.20).
Bottom line, DeSclafani figured it out in ’19 and built on it using San Francisco’s pitching factory. His upside isn’t through the roof — in fact, he’s already hit his prescribed ceiling, we’d guess — but you could do far worse in the No. 4 or No. 5 slot than someone who limits hard contact and tosses up 160 innings fairly effortlessly (and can start Game 4 of any series, if need be).
And plus, who doesn’t want another Jersey Boy in the Bronx?