Sizing up the Yankees Starting Rotation

Early this afternoon, the New York Yankees announced free agent J.A. Happ was returning to the team on a two-year contract with a vesting option for a third year. With Happ coming back, the Yankees now have six starting pitchers under contract for the 2019 season (although Sonny Gray most certainly won’t be returning to the team).

As of right now, the five man rotation seems to be shaping up as follows:

  1. Luis Severino
  2. James Paxton
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. J.A. Happ
  5. CC Sabathia

It’s safe to assume GM Brian Cashman will still be looking to pick up another arm to add depth to the staff, especially since Sabathia’s balky right knee requires a DL stint to keep the pain at bay. Parker Bridwell, recently claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, was thought to be depth for the rotation. However, the team designated Bridwell for assignment, needing that spot on the 40 man roster for Happ.

Bridwell could always re-sign with the team on a minor league contract and accept a non-roster invitee, but he will be free to sign with any team.

There are still a good number of free agent starters available. Dallas Keuchel is still unsigned as of this writing, but with the Yankees already having three lefty starters, I would think they would look to add another righty for balance. I also think Cashman would prefer a less expensive option since the team will be paying north of 60 million just for the current five the team already has. A couple cheap options could be Clay Buchholz and Edwin Jackson. They both pitched very well for their teams this year and would assuredly be inexpensive in 2019. 45 year-old Bartolo Colon still wants to pitch. However, there are also a few guys in the Yankees system who could fill the role in Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and Michael King. German and Loaisiga each showed promise as well as inconsistency in 2018, while King rose rapidly through the minors, starting in High-A Tampa and finishing with AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

All eyes are on the big free agents, waiting with baited-breath to see where Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will end up, but it will also be interesting to see how Brian Cashman shapes up the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff.

Will the Dominos Start to Fall?

This MLB offseason has been one of the slowest I can ever remember, which is painstaking for big baseball fans. If it weren’t so cold, you would be able to hear the crickets chirping.

However, it looks like the dominos may start to fall. Last week, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain to a 5 year, 80 million dollar deal and also traded for Christian Yelich in a deal with the Miami Marlins. It appears the Chicago Cubs are the favorites to sign free agent starter Yu Darvish some time this week.

In past years, once the bigger free agents start to find teams to play with, it triggers a frenzy of signings and rosters start to shape up for the upcoming season. Still available are big names such as:

Jake Arrieta

Eric Hosmer

Mike Moustakas

J.D. Martinez

Todd Frazier

And that is just a sampling of players who still don’t have a team with the beginning of Spring Training less than three weeks away. I have a feeling things will finally start to give. Players and teams both will likely be more willing to compromise as time winds down.

Yankees’ Romine is Worth His Weight in Gold

Late this afternoon, baseball journalist Jon Heyman sent a tweet out that reported the New York Yankees and back-up catcher Austin Romine reached an agreement for a one year contract for the 2018 season, bypassing arbitration.

As one might predict, Twitter’s peanut-gallery came to life fairly quick with the usual barbs about Romine not hitting well and being an automatic out and other “interesting takes”.

I like the move. As far as I’m concerned he’s worth every penny of that 1.1 million salary, and I will list the ways.

– Romine is familiar with every pitcher on the Yankees staff and vice-versa. It’s obviously nice to have a catcher who can hit the way Gary Sanchez does, but in my opinion it’s imperative for catchers to put defense and working with pitchers first, gaining a pitcher’s trust and confidence. It can have a greater effect to the entire team, and Romine has always done this and done it well.

– The aforementioned Sanchez will benefit from Romine’s presence and mentoring. I think it’s safe to assume the 29 year old Romine has been and will continue to tutor the younger Sanchez in effort to make him better at his craft behind the plate.

– Work ethic. To this writer, it seems like Romine has been around forever. He first made his MLB debut back in 2011, and had to overcome numerous injuries, shuttling back and forth to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre when healthy. Romine has outlasted follow backups Francisco Cervelli and John Ryan Murphy on the team and keeps coming back for more. After a season where Gary Sanchez’s worth ethic has been questioned, keeping Romine around at an inexpensive price was a wise choice.