This morning, Max Scherzer shocked Major League Baseball when he signed a seven-year, $210 Million (half-deferred) deal with the Washington Nationals, ending the Scherzer in Yankee pinstripes pipe dream. Truth be told: the Yankees were never in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes to begin with. Scherzer’s price from the beginning was just over $200 Million and the Yankees decided to spend their money more economically. Spending almost $500 Million and missing the playoffs last year forced Brian Cashman to take a different approach this year and in a way, the Yankees have done a good job not spending like the old Yankees.
Here’s what their starting rotation looked like before the offseason began:
As you can tell with the rotation above, there’s plenty of uncertainty. Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow has a tear, CC Sabathia is coming off knee surgery and Michael Pineda has been known to have injury issues in the past. Now you may be wondering why there are two blank spaces under Tanaka’s name: despite Ivan Nova being on the roster and technically in the rotation, he isn’t expected to pitch for the Yankees until June or July at the earliest. Meanwhile, Hiroki Kuroda went to pitch his final year in Japan and Brandon McCarthy signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So how did the Yankees fill the two holes in the rotation? They signed veteran Chris Capuano to a one-year deal and traded Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi. As with all trades the two pitchers come with risks; Eovaldi has shown promise but hasn’t tapped into his potential and Capuano is an older pitcher while the Yankees aim to become younger. But the both of them provide some depth and insurance should Sabathia, Pineda or Tanaka go down.
Now, I believe the Yankees should once again venture on the market and sign or trade for another pitcher, but I don’t think it should be a big name starter such as James Shields. If you look at the big picture, the Yankees have been productive this offseason. They’ve filled most of their holes by making small deals (trading for Didi Gregorius, signing Chase Headley, trading for Garrett Jones etc.) and didn’t succumb to making outlandish deals. With a month to go until Spring Training, the Yankees should make one last economical deal to add rotation depth.