Entering free agency, it appeared the New York Yankees had two options in their pursuit of pitching: pony up massive money for the likes of Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander (not sure things), or pay … more than they wanted to for a mid-range option, like Taijuan Walker or Chris Bassitt.
Based on the way they treated Jameson Taillon on the way out, declining to risk the qualifying offer/having to pay the right-hander nearly $20 million for one season, it seemed likely the team would opt out of both pitching buckets while pursuing Aaron Judge. Flyers on pitchers like Sean Manaea and Kyle Gibson were more likely, as well as handing rotation spots to Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt.
After Tyler Anderson signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday, though, it’s possible the Yankees might be reevaluating things. They might not have to spend so heavily to shore up the back of the rotation after all.
And did Taillon’s market just change significantly, too?
Anderson, who went 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.002 WHIP for the Dodgers last season and made the All-Star team, signed a three-year deal with the LAA for only $39 million total. Taillon isn’t likely to eclipse that by much, if at all … right?
Yankees free agent targets after Tyler Anderson contract (Jameson Taillon?)
Did the right-hander just drop back into the Yankees’ price range on a three-year deal? What about someone like Jose Quintana, uninspiring as anything other than a No. 5, but certainly unlikely to cost anything close to Anderson.
Perhaps Taillon’s market will surprise everyone. Maybe he’s still headed for four years of security or an AAV above $18 million. Without draft pick compensation attached to his name, there won’t be any additional market-suppressing discount on him like there was with Anderson.
It must be said that Anderson, about to turn 33, is a much better pitcher than Taillon, about to turn 32, at this point. Taillon has always had top-pick pedigree, but has performed more like a bulldog No. 4 than a swing-and-miss ace. Anderson tapped into something consistently last season; Taillon remains hit-or-miss, and trends hittable.
On the open market, the former Yankee is still likely to exceed Anderson’s deal without the sacrifice of a draft pick holding him down. By how much, though? Will the deal fit snugly into the Yankees’ margins after all? Or will another qualifying offer type — Bassitt? — plummet in value just in time for the Yankees to adjust their bowties and hop right in?
The middle tier of the pitching market doesn’t look like an area dominated by excess yet, and the Yankees could be more involved than we thought when free agency opened.