Per Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees' pivot options, in the wake of a potential unfavorable Yoshinobu Yamamoto decision, include adding a top-tier starter like Jordan Montgomery or beefing up the bullpen to a monstrous degree.
On the surface, Option C sounds questionable. After all, the Yankees haven't spent luxuriously on a bullpen piece since Adam Ottavino, a contract they ducked before it reached its conclusion. They've been content to sit back and craft back-end arms rather than pay handsomely; recent Jordan Hicks rumors should be met with skepticism.
But what if New York was able to get the best of both worlds, importing an elite arm into their second-half mix without breaking the bank?
Team insider Pete Caldera predicted this week that the Yankees could pursue a union with fan favorite ex-White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, whose Tommy John surgery will take him out for the majority of 2024. What about a two-year pact with an eye on 2025? The Yankees could certainly afford it -- and, if they don't, smart teams like the Dodgers (they love to do this) will be all over it.
Yankees could target Liam Hendriks during Tommy John recovery
As Caldera predicted, after noting that the Yankees and Hendriks teamed up for a charitable gesture to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center last summer:
"The potential of having an All-Star closer as a setup man during the second half of 2024 might be appealing to the Yankees, with the added benefit of having him in 2025.- Pete Caldera
Hendriks signs a two-year deal with the Yanks, with escalators based on appearances and other incentives."
To call Hendriks' 2023 season a "roller coaster" would be disrespectful to the severity of his ups and downs. After an All-Star campaign in 2022, the righty was diagnosed with cancer and spent the offseason in treatment (while, it should be noted, the game changed completely with the introduction of the pitch clock).
He fought back for a midseason return -- and appeared at Yankee Stadium in the Harrowing Smoke Fog Series in mid-June -- but quickly succumbed to arm trouble, ultimately going under the knife. Hendriks has the pedigree to reach the game's upper tier once more when he returns, and certainly deserves to have a degree of certainty and stability in his life after battling the world's worst curveballs last season.
A two-year deal with the Yankees, an organization that obviously respects his talent and humility a great deal, could ensure comfort moving forward.