1. Michael Pineda
Big Mike! In the flesh!
Though Yankees fans remember Michael Pineda as a mostly frustrating entity that never quick could crack his immense arm talent on a consistent basis, he’s been on his best behavior and at his most valuable since joining the Minnesota Twins at the start of 2019.
Perhaps his second Yankee go-’round might be a little smoother without the burden of high expectations? Pineda has now become a relatively consistent arm who keeps hitters off balance with a varied pitch mix while still running into — say it with us, now — injury issues. He posted 146 innings in 2019 and 109.1 last year (with a 3.62 ERA), and put up 4.02 and 4.21 FIP marks in his most recent non-60-game seasons.
Still just 33, Pineda will probably require a two-year pact worth somewhere between $20 and $24 million. He does reside at the fringes of free agency right now, though, and might be at the exact tier that gets squeezed the hardest by the ongoing lockout. Whenever the veil is lifted, there will be plenty of money for the stars of the free agent market like Carlos Correa, and the biggest question marks and “veteran presences” pushing 40 will find exceedingly cheap deals. For the mid-range guys, things could get difficult, and prices could drop as Spring Training approaches.
Don’t count on Pineda delivering more than 120-ish innings, but for a rotation patching things together (especially without Jameson Taillon), that could be extremely valuable. If the market craters, sadly, all the better for the Yankees’ budget.