The New York Yankees know their starting pitching held them back last season. To remedy that, the team will meet with the top two pitchers on the free-agent market.
The Yankees will sit down with both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg over the next couple days, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Both players are represented by Scott Boras.
It’s believed that the Yankees will be more aggressive for the 29-year-old Cole, who they’ve coveted for years. While New York will make a play for Strasburg, many believe he’ll return to the Washington Nationals, according to Rosenthal.
The Yankees’ interest in both players shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Yankees won 103 games last season on the strength of their offense and bullpen. The team’s 117 wRC+ — an advanced metric that measures a team’s offensive production — ranked second last season. Their 4.08 bullpen ERA ranked ninth.
The team’s rotation was middle of the pack. The Yankees’ 4.51 rotation ERA ranked 15th. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka impressed at times, but neither player eclipsed 180 innings. To make matters worse, the team’s ace, Luis Severino, was limited to just 12 innings due to injury.
While a healthy Severino should make things better in 2020, the Yankees could still use help at the top of their rotation. Cole or Strasburg would help immensely. In 212 1/3 innings, Cole posted a 2.50 ERA, with 326 strikeouts, last season. Strasburg, 31, had a 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts over 209 innings.
While the Yankees have thrown money around in the past, the team has been surprisingly frugal with free agents the past few winters. The team’s interest in Cole and Strasburg indicates that could change this offseason.
The reason for that change in approach is obvious. Landing either Cole or Strasburg wouldn’t just address the Yankees’ biggest need, it would make them the early favorite in the American League.
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