Yankees rotation may not be complete yet

Assessing the Current State and Potential Additions to the Yankees' Rotation

The 2023 season underscored a significant revelation about the Yankees' rotation: despite their efforts to bolster it with a Carlos Rodón addition ahead of the 2023 season, they failed to assemble the optimal puzzle pieces. Aside from Gerrit Cole, the team's ace, the rotation exhibited conspicuous flaws. Given the opportunity to reset this offseason, let's assess the present situation and examine each possible inclusion.

The current state of the Yankees’ rotation

Gerrit Cole

The unanimous 2023 AL Cy Young will return for his fifth season in the Bronx and his twelfth season in the majors. After the conclusion of the 2024 season, Cole has the option to opt-out of the nine-year, $324 million deal inked before the 2020 season. Nonetheless, the Yankees have the ability to nullify this opt-out by appending a 10th year to Cole's contract for an additional $36 million. There are reports suggesting that Scott Boras, Cole's agent, anticipates both parties utilizing their respective clauses.

In addition to being named the 2023 AL Cy Young winner, the 33-year-old ace was also nominated for MLB All-Team and was named the 2023 AL Outstanding Pitcher. He also is the franchise record-holder for strikeouts in a single season for both the Astros (2019) and the Yankees (2022), with 326 and 257 respectively.

Cole has a 145-75 career record with a 3.17 ERA.

Carlos Rodón

The 31-year-old lefty will return for a second season with the Yankees and his tenth in the majors, although he only pitched a total of 11 games in the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to Tommy John surgery in 2019 and a shortened season in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Yankees acquired Rodón in December 2022 after two consecutive All-Star appearances and a fifth-place and sixth-place Cy Young campaign in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

In his first season with the Yankees, Rodón spent over three months on the IL due to a left forearm strain, back stiffness and a hamstring strain. Due to a barrage of injuries thrown at the Yankees’ rotation last season, and a seemingly rushed return of Rodón, I believe the Yankees have yet to see a healthy version of him, so the jury is still out on what he can contribute to the rotation.

Rodón has a 59-54 career record with a 3.83 ERA.

Nestor Cortes Jr.

The Yankees need their funkiest windup southpaw to return to his “Nasty Nestor” form like it’s nobody’s business. But again, the jury is out after missing nearly all of 2023 with a shoulder strain.

Cortes Jr. enters the 2024 season with a 4.97 ERA – a stark contrast from his All-Star year in 2022 where he finished with a 2.44 ERA.

Fortunately here, the 29-year-old still harbors some of his youth, and returns to the majors for his seventh season with a lot of miles left in him, and almost an entire season to have recovered. Fingers crossed for a 2022 Nestor and a resurgence for both of the aforementioned left-handed mustache bros.

Cortes Jr. has a 24-11 career record with a 3.82 ERA.

Clarke Schmidt

The Yankees didn’t anticipate utilizing Clarke Schmidt in 2023 so much, but here we are, and maybe the experience under his belt will all pay off. The 27-year-old right-handed pitcher shifted from a role as a multi-inning reliever in 2022 to becoming a full-time starter in 2023. While the transition was not without notable challenges, it’s worth noting that Schmidt quickly rose to the top of the most reliable in 2023, and in the end, he was a fairly safe option. Allowing three or fewer runs in all but six of his starts is a commendable feat for a guy that really was making his debut as a starter. Considering the consistencies he built in 2023 and the uncertainties surrounding the 2024 rotation, Schmidt has presented a compelling argument to reclaim a starting role this season.

Potential free agent additions to the Yankees’ rotation

Blake Snell

Yes, the two-time Cy Young recipient. This would mean the Yankees would be front-loading their rotation with a one-two punch of the 2023 AL and NL Cy Young honorees. There are two things to caution with this Scott Boras signing: 1.) this would tip the scale to a lefty-leaning rotation, and 2.) this would likely require a lot of years and a big chunk of change to get a deal done. The Yankees have already signed a lot of years away in deals with their current 40-man that could go awry before things are all said and done, and they are going to need to put their best foot forward in the Juan Soto free-agency campaign after next season. The Bombers are starved of a title in the last 13 years, though, and it’s what it might take to win. The Yankees desperately need to bring some hardware back to the Bronx.

Snell has a career record of 71-55 with a 3.20 ERA.

Jordan Montgomery

The Monty we all know and love, but not the same exact Monty we once knew. Since being dealt to the Cardinals at the trade deadline in 2022, Jordan Montgomery has since become a highly-sought-after free agent after leading the Texas Rangers to their first World Series Championship in 2023. The same two cautions we have with Snell, we have with Monty. 1.) He’s a lefty, and 2.) Scott Boras & Co. will be asking for a lot of years and a lot of money. On the contrary, one thing we do know is that there will be no adjustment period here and no question of whether he can handle the pressure of New York.

Although speculation has risen in the last few days that Montgomery may harbor hard feelings since being dealt away ahead of the 2022 postseason, Jon Morosi of the MLB Network and others believe there is a real possibility for a reunion.

I do not buy for a moment the notion that because Montgomery was there before and traded that somehow he's not as much of an option now, Morosi said. I think actually he's more an option at this moment because he's proven to them that he can get it done in the month of October which for a lot of guys on that list we don't know that about. - Jon Morosi

Jordan Montgomery has a 38-34 career record with a 3.68 ERA.

Marcus Stroman

While talks of this RHP free agent were silent for the first several weeks of free agency, the rumor mill is certainly stirring now. Contradictory reports have been swirling. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Sunday, Stroman has let the Yankees know he would like to make a return to New York, this time in the Bronx.

Free agent starter Marcus Stroman has informed the Yankees he’s seriously interested in signing with them, but the Yankees have declined to make an offer. – Bob Nightengale

The very next day, Nightengale tweeted out the following:

Some fans have expressed concerns with this signing due to a history of tension that has arisen between the two since the Yankees declined to sign Stroman during his 2019 free agency period. However, others have a different view about Stroman and what his intensity could bring to the Bronx.

Stroman has a career record of 77-76 with an ERA of 3.65.

Potential trade additions to the Yankees’ rotation

Additional speculations include a variation of trades that the Yankees may or may not be willing to accommodate given the overhaul of prospects it may require, and, well, the Yankees already dealt away an overhaul to get Juan Soto. Starters mentioned in trade talks include Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes, Jesús Luzardo and Shane Bieber. To get one of these deals done, it may require relinquishing a top prospect like Spencer Jones and/or an every day starter like Gleyber Torres, and I’m not sure the Yankees want to go that deep to get one of these deals done, but one thing I think fans can be confident in is that the Yankees aren't done concocting their 2024 rotation. Stay tuned.


Jonna M. Perlinger

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