One big question mark about the Yankees’ offseason was answered yesterday.
Most likely, they will NOT have to shop for a starting pitcher.
Masahiro Tanaka has decided NOT to exercise his opt-out, and will stay with the Yankees for the next 3 years at $67MM.
It is quite possible that he figured he can’t get a better deal elsewhere. He has had the partial UCL tear for a while that he’s been pitching with, and it is a ticking time bomb that could require Tommy John surgery down the road.
Even though he had a great postseason (2-1, only 2 ER in 20 IP), Tanaka’s regular season was the worst of his career, 13-12, 4.74, ERA+ 95.
In his four seasons with the Yanks, he has averaged 13-7, 3.56, ERA+ 118. The elbow and various other injuries have limited him to an average of 26 starts per season, so he’s missed about 5-6 starts per season on the average.
But still, solid. You hope the elbow holds up and that he has a bounce-back year.
The Yanks’ starting rotation is pretty much set for next season: Severino, Gray, Tanaka and Montgomery.
The question now is #5. Do you bring CC Sabathia (a free agent) back, and at what price? CC is 37 and would turn 38 in the middle of next year. Do you only offer a one-year deal when he may be looking for two? Do you cut his salary in half, from $25MM to $12MM?
Or do you continue the youth movement, thank CC for his service, and move on to a youngster like Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield?
The Yanks could also move on from CC by trading someone like Dellin Betances, who had trouble and was unreliable down the stretch and in the postseason, for a starting pitcher. They then could “groom” a youngster like Adams or Sheffield (and there are more coming, like Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo and Domingo German) to be in the bullpen first before becoming a starter.
They could also move someone like Chad Green or Adam Warren to the rotation, but I don’t see that happening. The bullpen, with Green, Warren, Kahnle, Robertson, Chapman and maybe Betances (if he isn’t traded) is such a strength.
We’ll see what happens with CC next. But a good start. Tanaka back, don’t have to shop for a starter like Darvish (who flopped in the WS) or Arrietta.
As for manager, one scout predicts that Brad Ausmus, recently fired by the Tigers, will wind up the Yankees manager. Ausmus was once a Yankees’ prospect who was lost in the expansion draft.
Ausmus, like Girardi, was a catcher who was mostly known for his defense and who was an OK hitter without much power. From 1993-2010, he played for the Padres, Tigers, Astros, Tigers again, Astros again, and Dodgers. His average year was about .251-5-40. OPS+75. A 1x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove. He played in 35 postseason games, all with Houston. .245-3-7. He was their starting catcher when the Astros lost the 2005 WS. He fits the young manager the Yanks may be looking for, since he is just 48 years old.
He managed the Tigers the last four seasons, going 314-332. In his first year managing Detroit, he won 90 games and the division title, but they were swept by Baltimore in the ALDS. Since then, 74, 86 and 64 wins. The Tigers got old, had a fire sale (got rid of Avila, Verlander, J.D. Martinez) and their farm system stinks. Maybe with the Yanks he has something better to work with. Like Girardi, and Torre before him, a catcher with managerial experience elsewhere who now settles into the Bronx, where he has better talent to work with.
Another possible candidate could be YES broadcaster John Flaherty. It is rumored that he would like to manage. Flaherty, through his YES work, knows the team. Another former catcher, Flaherty is 50. A big leaguer from 1992-2005 (the last three years as Posada’s backup with the Yankees), Flaherty’s average season if he caught 104 or 105 games would be .252-8-40. OPS+ 74. He played for Boston, Detroit, San Diego, Tampa Bay and the Yankees. He made the playoffs with the Padres and Yankees.
But would Cashman choose someone with no managerial experience?
In the Arizona Fall League, Billy McKinney joins Thairo Estrada and Justus Sheffield on the All-Star Team. Scottsdale won Friday night 3-0 on a one-hitter. Yankees’ prospects:
CF Estevan Florial 2 for 5, .300
1B Billy McKinney 1 for 3, RBI, .311
SS Thairo Estrada 2 for 4, .353