Cole and the Comebackers

Sweet band name, right? It’s only fitting for the rotation that the Yankees have put together this last week or so. After finally re-signing DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees got to work on their starting pitching that consisted of the ace, Gerrit Cole, and then a bunch of young, unproven arms. The same day the Yanks and DJ reached a deal, Jan 15, they also signed 2x Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber. Over a week later, the news broke that the Yanks reached an agreement with the Pirates to acquire Jameson Taillon for 4 prospects. If the year was 2018, They Yankees would easily have the best rotation in baseball. However, 2-3 years is a long time in the baseball world and I’m not too sure what to expect from this. If everyone makes it out of spring training healthy, here’s what the rotation will most likely look like:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Corey Kluber – threw a combined 36.2 IP in 2019/2020. (broken forearm, oblique strain, muscle tear in shoulder)
  3. Jameson Taillon – hasn’t pitched since 2019 (37.1 innings). Recovering from second TJ surgery.
  4. Jordan Montgomery – TJ in early 2019. Came back in 2020 and pitched a mediocre 44 innings.
  5. Domingo German (suspended all of 2020 for domestic violence) / Deivi Garcia / Clarke Schmidt

Then you can throw in Luis Severino in the mix sometime in July/August and this may be a very solid rotation. But right now, Brian Cashman is trying to just scoop every pitcher with high upside coming off of major surgery. This is a prime example of throwing shit against the wall and hoping something sticks. I believe that if the Yankees truly want to stay under the $210m luxury tax threshold and also improve the team, this is the best way to do it. According to Spotrac, they have $11.6m of space left to work with after trading Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox (!) which cleared up $9m. The current roster sits perfectly at 40.

The addition of Kluber and Taillon reveals a couple of things. The Yankees were never in on Trevor Bauer who wants a Gerrit Cole type of contract. It also all but confirms that they are letting Masahiro Tanaka walk. Tanaka is estimated to receive offers around the $15m AAV range. Whether that means he’s staying in MLB or going back to Japan is up to him, although I’m sure plenty of teams would love to add him to their rosters. Tanaka has had a solid career in the MLB so far. Through 7 years in NY, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA, 3.91 FIP, and a 114 ERA+. He’s also been very dependable in the playoffs (until lately) and had some memorable wins when the Yanks needed it the most. If this truly is the end for Tanaka in pinstripes, I appreciate his time here and wish him the best. I’m not going to lose sleep over it, though.

I’m really curious (and maybe a little excited?) to see how this rotation shakes out. The upside for this is through the roof. If Kluber and Taillon are able to bounce back, Montgomery continues to grow into his role, Cole continues to dominate, and Severino provides solid production down the stretch, the Yankees may finally have a rotation that they’re confident about going into October. That’s a lot of things that have to go right. Only time will tell…

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