Yankees starting pitching free agent targets

The Yankees head into the 2018 offseason with only three locks in the starting rotation, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. Masahiro Tanaka has a player option to opt out of his remaining three years worth $67 million. The Yankees will also be losing CC Sabathia and Jaime Garcia to free agency unless they resign them. The Yankees have repeatedly mentioned that they want to be under the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season, likely meaning that they would like to avoid large long-term contracts. With that in mind, let's take a look at some starting pitching free agent options for next season.
David J. Phillip | AP Photo

Masahiro Tanaka:
With the way Tanaka performed in second half of the regular season and in the Postseason it may be likely that he opts out in an attempt to get a larger contract. In the regular season, Tanaka posted a 4.74 ERA, 4.34 WHIP, with 194 strikeouts in 178.1 innings pitched. The ERA and WHIP are a little high but that is because of his rocky first half of the season. What will probably lead Tanaka to opt out of his contract, however, are his Postseason numbers. In three games Tanaka posted a 0.90 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, with 18 strikeouts in 20 innings. He pitched like an ace during the Postseason but he was pretty inconsistent in the first half of the regular season.

Tanaka also has a lot of question marks. He was very inconsistent in the regular season and let up a lot of home runs. Also, don’t forget about his elbow injury. It’s definitely possible that he could get a little bit more money from the Yankees if he chooses to opt out based on his second half and Postseason performance but don’t expect the Yankees to back up the money truck. The Yankees might offer him some extra years with more money on the back end to keep the payroll for 2018 and 2019 down.

CC Sabathia:
CC has mentioned that he would want to return to the Yankees next season but the only question would be for how much. Now obviously he wouldn't be making as much as his original Yankee contract because of his age and injury history but a one or two year deal worth around $8-$12 million would probably be about right. As long as he wants to return to the Yankees will definitely be offering CC a contract after the way he pitched during the Postseason. In four games, CC posted a 2.37 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, with 19 strikeouts in 19 innings. His stats aren’t the best on paper but the way he came up in big spots will be something to remember about the 2017 Postseason for a long time. In every start, he came out and gave the Yankees a great opportunity to win the game. Even in the ALCS Game 7, when he apparently had the flu, he gave the Yankees a good chance to win. That’s the type of pitcher he is and he would again be a great veteran leader for the young rotation.

Alex Cobb, Doug Fister:
Alex Cobb has spent his entire seven-year career with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2011-2017. He missed the entire 2015 season after getting Tommy John surgery but since his return from surgery, he has been pretty good. In 2017 he posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, with 128 strikeouts in 179.1 innings pitched. He could be a cheaper option If Tanaka opts out and/or CC Sabathia retires or signs elsewhere.
Photo Credit: Bob Levey | Getty Images

Another cheaper option is Doug Fister, he didn’t have the best season stats wise but he did show signs of his former self with the Red Sox this season. His 2017 contract was 1-year $1.75 million, based on his season stats he will probably get something similar from another team.
Photo Credit: Kyodo News

Shohei Otani
The Japanese phenom is likely to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters this winter and if that happens, the Yankees will surely be in on Otani as a pitcher and as a potential DH. Due to his age and the new CBA, Otani can only receive a maximum signing bonus of $10,062,500, which makes him very affordable for a team like the Yankees who worked hard to acquire more international spending bonus money. In 65 games, Otani hit .332/.403/.540 with eight homers, 31 RBIs, and 16 doubles. As a pitcher, Otani went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in only five starts due to him battling through injuries. This is a complicated situation, but if he is posted, expect the Yankees to be all in on Otani

The Yankees will likely stay away from the big free agents such as Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish. This also includes guys with options like Johnny Cueto. The Yankees have expressed real interest in staying below the luxury tax threshold for next year so that means not signing anyone to big contracts. The most likely situation right now for the Yankees is CC and Tanaka both returning to the Bronx with reasonable contracts to stay under the threshold. And if one of them doesn’t return it is possible they give Chance Adams from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a shot.

Article written by: Paul Alvaro
Follow me on Twitter: @PAlvaro18
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