5. Jameson Taillon
Jamo! Another Brian Cashman acquisition that was catered to minimizing loss and maximizing cost-effectiveness. Did it work? Kind of. But 2022 will tell the full story.
Taillon was rock solid in 2021. He went from being one of the worst starters in the game to one of the best (a very bad first half was salvaged by Pitcher of the Month in July and a couple of gutsy outings down the stretch). But then he injured his ankle and needed surgery. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the season, but we’ll believe that when we see it.
In the end, Taillon finished with a 4.30 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.21 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 29 starts (144.1 innings). That was coming off his second Tommy John surgery and a battle with testicular cancer. Admirable stuff.
But with the rising cost of even the most pedestrian starting pitchers (Steven Matz, a 4.24 career ERA pitcher, is making $11 million per season), the Yankees are really going to need a convincing 2022 from Taillon to be coaxed into re-signing him. The bounce-back was there for the taking until the ankle issue. Now, instead of prepping for a bigger workload, he’s focusing on rehab and getting back on track.
Taillon averaged under five innings per start in 2021, which can’t happen again for so many reasons beyond the fact he’s looking for a payday when he hits free agency for the first time. If he underwhelms, he’ll no doubt be out of New York. But it’ll all depend on his longevity after recovering from yet another injury.