With or Without Yamamoto
The Yankees enter the 2024 season, significantly improving their offense with the acquisitions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. In the process of acquiring these players, they gave away pitching depth. Many major league teams are in desperate need of starting pitchers. The Yankees may not be in a severe situation. However, they need to fill in the backend of the rotation and find multiple bargains on the free-agent market. Fortunately, there are many pitchers whom the Yankees could acquire, which would make the rotation more secure even with the potential acquisition of Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Why is Lucas Giolito potentially the bargain of the offseason? He consistently eats innings, throwing over 170 in the past five major league seasons. Even though Giolito hasn’t pitched particularly well in the past two seasons, he’s not far removed from a 2019-2021 stretch where he consistently had a mid-3 ERA. He also has had more strikeouts than innings pitched throughout his major league career. At the same time, he’s had trouble with command, has walked too many batters, and has given up the most home runs in baseball last season.
Should the Yankees still acquire him? He has had a track record of success, but his pitch mix is almost identical to what the Yankees like. Giolito has a wipeout slider and an elusive changeup, both of which the Yankees like their pitchers to use. Pitching coach Matt Blake is adamant in ensuring all pitchers have plus changeups. In addition, Blake also likes to teach players with good sliders how to throw a sweeper. Giolito fits the bill perfectly as to what the Yankees are looking for. He is a talented pitcher with a good track record who, with the right coaching, could become great once again.
Giolito, according to Sportrac.com, has a market value of around 11 million. What the Yankees could potentially get would be a winning bargain. A good season for Giolito could help rebuild his free-agent stock and revitalize his career. The Yankees should make this move, as Giolito fits the profile and will eat many innings.
On paper, most teams might try to avoid Noah Syndergaard as he looks like a shell of his former self. Since his unfortunate Tommy John Surgery in 2020, he has not looked anything close to the player he once was. Before his injury, Syndergaard averaged 97-98 mph on the four-seam fastball. Now, he averages around 92-93. That is a significant drop-off in velocity, resulting in him becoming a sinker ball pitcher. He also was released by the Guardians after being acquired in a trade from the Dodgers. Syndergaard is going through the most challenging stretch of his career. Why is he a great candidate for the Yankees?
Syndergaard has a strong track record of success despite his injuries and has developed a great changeup in recent years. In addition to his changeup, his slider is still a compelling pitch, and the sinker could be better with the right help. This is where Matt Blake comes in, as he is adept at unlocking a pitcher’s true potential, particularly the three pitches Syndergaard relies on. Syndergaard also has pitched in New York and understands the pressure that comes with it. He also has an excellent postseason track record.
He may not be a starting pitcher right from the start of the season, but he may benefit in Michael King’s former role. Syndergaard could start the season as a long receiver to rebuild his confidence and work on his pitch mix with Matt Blake. As the season progresses with player injury and fatigue, he could step back into the starter role and significantly rebuild his free agency stock. He would come with a potential price tag of 9 million for a single season. With Blake’s track record, Syndergaard’s success, and the need to add quality pitching depth, this seems like an obvious move.
Why The Yankees Need Them
As George Steinbrenner used to say, you can never have enough starting pitching. This is why the Yankees should strongly consider signing Giolito and Syndergaard. They will both add quality depth with high upside and the potential to eat a lot of innings. If the Yankees sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto along with these two former all-stars, the Yankees would have a formidable rotation from top to bottom. The rotation could look something like this,
- Gerrit Cole
- Carlos Rodon
- Yoshinobu Yamamoto
- Nestor Cortes Jr.
- Lucas Giolito
- Noah Syndergaard SP/RL
One thing Yankees fans should remember in case Yamamoto is signed is that he only pitched once a week in Japan. Having six quality arms would help offset the workload and protect injury-prone players such as Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes Jr. The front office may not want to go significantly over the 300 million dollar payroll, but it could pay huge dividends for these two arms.
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