The New York Yankees didn’t make many moves this offseason, but we still should look back to see the moves they did and didn’t make.
Major League Baseball lasts for about seven of the 12 months of the year. Throughout the other 5 months, we have the offseason; in my opinion, one of the more entertaining parts of the game. Every team usually enters the offseason with assorted needs to improve their team to ultimately achieve baseball supremacy. In the past decade, the New York Yankees biggest need has been pitching. It seems like the Yankees have tried everything. Signing established quality pitchers like CC Sabathia, holding onto rich pitching prospects like Devi Garcia and Chance Adams. Going out and acquiring big name arms that they took a rather big risk on like Sonny Gray and James Paxton, or even attempting to find elite foregin arms like Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka.
Aside from Sabathia, the Yankees have struck out on virtually every feeble attempt to find elite pitching help. However, although the Yankees did not make a plethora of depth signings like teams like the White Sox and Reds made, they made one massive splash, and that was by signing the best pitcher in baseball Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract.
In 2019, Gerrit Cole had one of the best seasons in recent MLB History. In 212.1 IP, Cole had a 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 2.48 xFIP, 2.62 SIERA, 185 ERA+, 2.30 pCRA, and a 7.4 fWAR. These are elite numbers, as his 7.4 fWAR made his season worth around 60 Million dollars per fangraphs. Another great thing about Cole is that he is going into his age 30 season, where he should be peaking still for the next couple years. With the Yankees already losing James Paxton and Luis Severino to relatively long term injuries, they need Cole now more than ever. For 2020, ZIPS projection system projects Cole to have a 3.11 ERA, 2.98 FIP, and a 6.4 fWAR. If he can pitch up to these standards, this signing will easily be worth it. This season, the Yankees will really be depending on a resurgence of J.A. Happ and a potential breakout of a couple in-house option pitchers.
The other couple moves the New York Yankees had made on the major league level was by resigning all-star closer Aroldis Chapman, and resigning outfielder Brett Gardner. For starters, Chapman has been a top three relief pitcher over the past five or so years, putting up consistent sub 3.00 FIP seasons while approaching 2.0 fWAR wins almost every season. He has been a staple in the back end of the Yankees bullpen for the past few years, and also contributed by being the piece that brought the Yankees young fenome Gleyber Torres at the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline.
As for Gardner, he provides much needed depth for the Yankees injury riddled outfield that features Aaron Hicks (who will be out until around August) and Giancarlo Stanton, who will at least miss opening day. Last season Gardner was pretty good 115 wRC+ and a 3.6 fWAR. However, he did have a .302 xwOBA which indicates to us that he will most likely regress mightily, as he is also getting up there in age.
Overall, the Yankees’ off-season although not as eventful as maybe a team like the White Sox, they got their “White Whale” in Gerrit Cole, who theoretically should push the Yankees over the top. With that being said, with the club’s injury issues, the Yankees could really benefit a breakout season from Clarke Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, or Jordan Montgomery. My personal favorite out of the three is Jonathan Loaisiga, as I see so much potential in his game. His curveball’s RPM is in the 89th percentile with 2805 spin. His fastball spin is in the 84th potential RPM with 2422 spin.
Overall, I would give the Yankees an A grade for the Yankees offseason, with the sole edition of the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole.