Once upon a time (like, a week ago), it seemed possible after All-Star Tyler Anderson’s quick deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that the Yankees might be able to bring Jameson Taillon back without their finances being overextended.
In two years with New York, Taillon went 22-11, posting rock-solid WHIPs of 1.21 and 1.13 while skating along with league-average ERAs of 4.30 and 3.91.
“League-average” was not an approximation there. Taillon really did post back-to-back ERA+ marks of 100, meaning he was exactly as good as the baseline in both seasons in the Bronx. There was nothing wrong with his tenure, and if given the opportunity, the Yankees would gladly slot him in for somewhere between the 144 innings he provided in 2021 and the 177 innings he reached last season, further removed from the injury issues that dogged his Pirates career.
However, now that Taillon has reached free agency and the cost for those innings has escalated (with, again, the injury scepter always hanging over his head), it seemed likely the Yankees would move on at the end of 2022.
That notion has only grown in likelihood now that Taillon is reportedly wowing interested teams via Zoom interview, and his next contract will probably eclipse the Texas Rangers’ overpay for Jon Gray from last offseason.
Jameson Taillon Contract Projection: Yankees, uh, won’t pay that
Taillon is a less risky pitching acquisition than Gray was back in 2021-22, full stop. The issue here is that that’s also too much money for the Rangers right-hander, who was given a four-year deal in hopes that he’d finally put his projections together, stay healthy, and reach his ceiling. He didn’t, and he didn’t.
When the Yankees added Taillon before the 2021 season, many thought he would be able to level up his stuff following Tommy John surgery and myriad other troubles, evolving into a No. 2 with swing-and-miss prowess. Though he was usually reliable as a Yankee, he certainly got too hittable at times, and never looked like more than an excellent fifth starter or a fourth starter you could totally live with.
He had a propensity for coming up big in the Yankees’ most important contests (Game 162 against the Rays in 2021 on a bum ankle, another season-turning appearance against the Rays in early Sept. this season), but if he’s valued at over $56 million or over a four-year commitment, expect Brian Cashman to pivot to the trade market or an alternative like Noah Syndergaard or Jose Quintana.
Unless the pitching market is just … that level of bonkers across the board. Which it may be, considering Mike Clevinger just got $12 million for a year, while Matt Boyd received $10 million.
In that case, the Yankees will be replacing Taillon with … nobody. Either way, the right-handed coffee lover was a very good Yankee, and he should enjoy his next several years with any team lining up to pay him that type of dough.