The New York Yankees biggest issue in 2021 was surprisingly not their rotation for once. Instead, it was the offense that dragged the team down all season. We all know the classic saying: “you can never have too much pitching.” We at least know that the Yankees made a run at signing Justin Verlander before he eventually re-signed with the Houston Astros. So, what options does Brian Cashman have left to improve his rotation?
Yankees Options Already on the Roster:
Firstly let’s go over who already resides in the Yankees rotation and who they have internally that could end up there. At the top, you obviously have Gerrit Cole, who, still well within his prime, is projected by ZiPS to have another 5+ WAR season. Then, there is Jordan Montgomery, who has proven to be a solid starter. He posted a 112 ERA+ in 2021. After that, there are a lot of question marks. How much can you expect out of Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon? Can Nestor Cortes Jr. repeat his 2021 performance?
The Yankees farm system has a few guys who might be able to step into the rotation. Luis Gil got a taste of the big leagues last year and performed well. Whether or not he will end up in the bullpen is questionable. Coming back from injury, Clarke Schmidt still has potential to make the rotation. Unfortunately, Yankees top pitching prospect Luis Medina seems destined for the bullpen. An under-the-radar prospect who could make his big league debut in 2022 is Hayden Wesneski, who had a breakout season between AA and AAA.
Free Agent Options:
Most of the quality free agent starting pitchers got gobbled up pre-lockout. Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Max Scherzer all signed on with new teams. What’s left isn’t all that attractive. Carlos Rodon is probably the best pitcher available, but his injury history is a major concern. Clayton Kershaw likely has some good years left in him, but it’s unlikely he will be swayed to come to New York.
Let’s just get right to it: a trade with Oakland involving Matt Olson and one of their three good starting pitchers would be the dream. It is not an unrealistic scenario either. Oakland has broadcasted that they are looking to shed payroll. Chris Bassit, Frankie Montas, and Sean Manaea are all late into arbitration and are projected to be among the A’s highest paid players in 2022. Any of the three would be a great fit on any team so Cashman will have tough competition.
Another team that is probably looking to sell is the Cincinnati Reds. Rumors about the availability of Reds ace Luis Castillo made the rounds prior to the lockout. However, it would take a significant haul to pry him away from Cincinnati.
While the Yankees overall pitching staff is relatively strong, the rotation has question marks. They have shown an interest in improving the rotation, but to what lengths is yet to be determined. The Yankees have a lot of holes to fill if they want to be serious World Series contenders, and starting pitching isn’t the biggest one. Perhaps signing a big name shortstop or first baseman and signing a lesser starter will be the route they end up taking.