There won’t be any moves made for quite a while and the wait isn’t going to get any easier for New York Yankees fans, who simply wanted a little taste of action before the MLB lockout commenced.
Nope, can’t have nice things. The richest franchise in the sport needed to “wait out the market” in the catastrophic event they overspent for a player and drove up the price for their fellow owners. But it’s the players who have caused the work stoppage. Yup.
Both before and during the lockout, though, fans have perhaps been too zoned in on the high-profile free agents when there’s a second and third tier that might be able to satiate the Bombers’ needs. Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez, Starling Marte, Chris Taylor, Kevin Gausman and others might be gone, but is that where we even needed to be focusing all of our attention?
The goal is to overspend on one or two top targets and add around the margins with shrewd decision making and foresight. The Yankees largely fail to do both of those things … but what we’re trying to say is that you don’t need to be fretting about Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant and other obvious impact names when the lockout is lifted.
There are some other guys who have flown under the radar as a result of all the hoopla and, quite frankly, they could seriously help the Yankees address glaring deficiencies (not all of them, but certainly some!).
Look deeper into the free agent pool. You’ll find a number of names that have been criminally overlooked simply due to the stature of this year’s class. And you’ll realize, yet again, the Yankees could’ve easily made these moves to provide support in any capacity.
Yankees fans aren’t talking enough about these three free agents.
3. Yusei Kikuchi
The Seattle Mariners’ playoff bid might’ve become a reality had Yusei Kikuchi not fallen off the face of the earth during the last month of the season. On Aug. 14, the left-hander owned a 3.73 ERA. On Sept. 23, it was a 4.41 mark. He didn’t win a single start after Aug. 3.
But … that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an asset. It just so happened he was a front-facing pitcher on an overachieving team. Slot him in the back end of the Yankees’ rotation and those 157 innings and 163 strikeouts will be put to good use.
Kikuchi is far from a game-changer. In fact, he was among the hardest hit pitchers in the league last season (bottom 1% in average exit velocity, bottom 4% in hard hit percentage, and bottom 7% in barrel percentage). But that’s what happens when you face EIGHT playoff teams a total of 14 times. Half of his starts came against the best teams/offenses in the league and he managed to escape with solid, but not spectacular numbers. That’s a win.
Throw in the fact he recorded a 3.18 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays and a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Rays, and adding the left-hander as a rotational depth piece could pay immediate dividends, especially when you consider how inexpensive he’ll likely be.
The Yankees aren’t getting a No. 2 starter in free agency. Might as well get a No. 4 and explore the trade market.