Top Five Pitchers the Yankees Should Target This Offseason

5 Targets for Yankees

Addressing the offensive struggles of the New York Yankees should be priority number one for the front office; the club is not without starting pitching struggles that need to be rectified though. Aside from recent Cy Young recipient Gerrit Cole, no other starting pitcher for the Yankees tallied an ERA below 4.00 during the 2023 season. Current prospect Jhony Brito is the only other Yankee starting pitcher who also added an ERA+ over 100 during the tumultuous season. Here are five options the Yankees could look to target during the offseason.

Five Options for the Yankees

Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Photo by CBS/Getty Images

Yamamoto was just posted this week and is expected to be signed shortly after the winter meetings in Nashville from Dec. 4th to Dec. 7th. There have been recent reports that the Japanese star prefers to play on a team with other Japanese players, but this would be disputed by SNY’s Andy Martino below:

Yamamoto’s reputation proceeds him in the US market, and he is the top pitching target for many teams, so the Yankees will likely have a bidding war on their hands. He is only 25, so the Yankees could theoretically control his contractual future for a long time as he’s entering his prime.

Yamamoto has won the last three Sawamura Awards in Japan, the hardware similar to MLB’s Cy Young. You can find his career pitching stats across seven seasons with the Orix Buffaloes below:

  • 1.82 ERA
  • 0.935 WHIP
  • 9.3 K/9

The Yankees should look to sign Yamamoto sooner rather than later.

Jordan Montgomery

(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

A familiar face. Montgomery was once told that he wasn’t seen as a pitcher included in the Yankees’ postseason plans; Montgomery has just won his first World Series with the Texas Rangers (and pitched pretty well doing so). He was traded away in what turned out to be an underwhelming deal to the St. Louis Cardinals to improve the Yankees’ outfield for local fan favorite Harrison Bader in 2022. Since this move, Monty has grown into quite an interesting rotation piece.

Montgomery threw a 3.20 ERA during the 2023 season over 188.2 innings. He shined in the postseason, contributing to three wins with a 2.90 ERA in six games.

Since he was traded midseason, he can’t receive a qualifying offer, so no draft pick compensation is looming. Assuming Nestor Cortes Jr. and Carlos Rodón are in the rotation next season, that would give the Yankees three left-handed starters.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, Rodriguez opted out of his contract with the Detroit Tigers, to the surprise of no one. He made headlines earlier this year when he utilized his no-trade clause to stop a trade that would’ve sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and while a reunion in Detroit remains possible, it is rather improbable after that debacle.

Rodriguez did suffer from off-field issues and poor play in 2022 but bounced back in 2023, slinging a 3.30 ERA over 152.2 innings in 26 starts. He also posted the lowest HR/FB % of his career last season; granted, home runs tend to be easier to find in Yankee Stadium than in Comerica Park. Rodriguez could be an interesting project for Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, who is known for maximizing the effectiveness of his pitchers. He throws three different fastballs but mainly relies on his four-seam fastball, which notably possesses “irregular” movement but is sneakily effective. He also has a slider that he rarely throws, but according to Fangraphs, that’s his best pitch metric-wise.

Rodriguez could be a cost-effective option for a Yankees ball club expected to lay down at least one large contract this offseason.

Shane Bieber

Photo by NBC Sports/Getty Images

The current Cleveland Guardians starter will be a free agent after the 2024 season, so time will tell if Cleveland decides to deal their former Cy Young award winner this winter. He could have been traded before the 2023 season’s trade deadline, but he was hurt and only pitched twice after July 9th.

His numbers haven’t been as eye-popping as his Cy Young season effort in 2020, but he finished 2022 with a strong 2.88 ERA. During his career, he has been adept at suppressing home runs, which is a substantial positive while pitching in a hitter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium.

Bieber turns 29 this May and is estimated to make more than $12M in arbitration next season. Cleveland has moved starting pitchers during the offseason, but time will tell if they choose to deal him or hold onto him until the next trade deadline when demand could be higher.

Frankie Montas

Photo by NY Post/Corey Sipkin

Three words: “Prove It Deal.” The ex-Oakland A’s pitcher was included in a deal with the Yankees during the 2022 season, and the Yankees never got a solid opportunity to observe if the pitcher could pitch in the Bronx due to injury. Montas was absent for nearly the entire 2023 season but made a short appearance towards the end. Knowing that his contract was ending and still working as hard as he did to get back on the field for the Yankees says something about his work ethic. Montas has expressed interest in returning to the Yankees, and their desire to get him into a game at the end of the year shows that interest may be mutual.

Montas was considered one of the best pitchers in the American League from 2021 until he was traded in 2022, ranking 3rd in ERA, 6th in IP, and 4th in fWAR. Could Yankees fans finally see what a healthy Montas pitching will be like in 2023? Time will only tell.

The Yankees do have a couple of advantages here:

  1. The Yankees know how healthy Montas is more than any other organization in the league.
  2.  Montas is primed for a low-risk, team-friendly deal after coming off of a shoulder surgery.

The Yankees could theoretically do the same thing with long-time Yankee starter Luis Severino, who threw a 2.98 ERA during his best season with the club in 2017. He delivered an abysmal 6.65 ERA over 19 games in 2023, though. With all things considered, Montas’ ceiling may be higher.

Jacob P.M.

Covering the New York Yankees - Find me on X/Twitter: @JacobBSpeaks

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