You know the top-tier names. Every Yankees fan has rolled them around in their smooth brain curves daily, ever since the team missed out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Every one of them has warts. Every one of them would be an improvement on the current back of the rotation. Every one of them seems doubtful to be a Yankee, at best. Blake Snell. Jordan Montgomery. Corbin Burnes. Dylan Cease. Shane Bieber. Shōta Imanaga. Jesus Luzardo. Edward Cabrera. (Sigh) Marcus Stroman.
Without one of these "big-ish" names in pinstripes, it will be tough for the Yankees to say they sniffed around the high-end pitching market and succeeded this offseason. But making any of the above names the center piece of your offseason -- especially at elevated prices -- could backfire just as easily as it could make you a king. And, based on Brian Cashman's recent attempts to acquire pitching, whichever one he chooses will probably backfire.
So, what if Cashman shops in the lower tier? Frankie Montas and Luis Severino both received higher guarantees than anyone imagined they would, but there are still a few intriguing names available on one-to-two-year deals for under $30 million. There's no such thing as a bad one-year deal, but a pitcher really has to stink to make a two-year deal look horrendous, too.
We liked Sean Manaea and his new sweeper. Everyone liked Sean Manaea and his new sweeper. Don't let anyone get hipster cred for suggesting they were one of the very few people to like Manaea's new arsenal. The contrarian take -- that it doesn't much matter/Manaea is still a mid-ceiling, 120-inning guy -- would actually be the one that deserves credit, if 2024 doesn't go his (and the Mets') way.
Still, allow us to say that, although Manaea and his new sweeper probably represented the most appealing fit at this price level, there are still options on the Yankees' table.
3 (relatively cheap) short-term pitching contracts Yankees can still sign in 2024
If you believe in FanGraphs' rankings of the Yankees' current rotation depth chart, this starting staff -- as constructed -- ranks in the top half of the league. That's without factoring in a return to Cy Young form for Carlos Rodón (instead of a moderate bounce back), a large chunk of innings from Luis Gil (they projected just 18), and Will Warren's potential breakout (New York was high on him for a reason).
Warren could be quite good in 2024, but relying on him to be your fifth starter rather than being pleasantly surprised by his efforts, feels foolish. That's where an arm like Michael Lorenzen comes in.
Lorenzen, who threw a no-hitter in Philadelphia last summer, would just have to clear the bar of giving fans more comfort than Warren on Opening Day, then would have to be good for 100-130 solid-to-good innings over the course of the year. His command and four-seam fastball both remain in Savant's top percentiles, though he doesn't exactly follow Matt Blake's guidelines for acquisition (top-tier changeup, avoiding barrels).
Lorenzen's theoretical best year probably looks a lot like 2023: All-Star highs, significant lows (being yanked from the staff after tiring out before October), grit, tenacity, and occasional flashes of greatness. If the Yankees have the chance to secure 130 good innings for $13-14 million AAV for two years, they should do so. Where's Lorenzen's market right now?