Yankees Free Agent Who Will Return: Wandy Peralta
To be wholly honest, we did not expect this to be the prevailing wisdom. Peralta spent the 2023 season skirting the Regression Gods, doing a slightly more dangerous high-wire act than normal. His 2022 season was exceptional, and his 2022 ALDS was legendary (he appeared in all five games), but his numbers didn't match up in his age-31/32 season. He managed to make it to the finish line with a 2.83 ERA and posted 1.4 bWAR, but his 5.05 FIP only rose as the campaign went on. He struggled to throw strikes, walking 30 in 54 innings pitched. He came down with a late-season injury, much like every other Yankee reliever.
The regression to the mean never hit, and we expected the Yankees would allow it to do so on someone else's dime. And yet, so far this offseason ... there's been a lot of talk about the bulldog-ish Peralta's intangible importance to the Yankees' bullpen. They don't have a lefty in tow who can adequately replace him; Matt Krook proved to very much not be up for the job last season.
Therefore, if the Yankees intend to contend again, it would be nice to have the good version of Peralta available. Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner settled on predicting a two-year deal and a return for the 32-year-old. We'll differ from them and predict a one-year deal with a mutual option. Either way, it feels like the Bombers are prepared to cross their fingers and hope his FIP drops.