I know I speak for a majority of Yankees Universe when I say that I am frustrated with the Yankees allowing Dallas Keuchel to slip away.
No, Keuchel isn’t an ace. It’s up for debate weather he’s even a number two at this point. Despite this, the Yankees rotation is decimated by injury, and the bullpen is decimated from overuse. Roster wise, signing Keuchel to a one-year, $13 million dollar deal was an obvious move to make the team better. However, it isn’t the first time Brian Cashman passed on a stud pitcher.
“Mad Max” was 29 and coming off of a dominant 2014 season for the Tigers. He went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA. With one Cy Young award already under his belt, Scherzer was smack dab in the middle of his prime. He had several dominant seasons left in the tank. Sadly, the Yankees didn’t even meet with Scherzer. It’s quite frustrating the Yankees were satisfied with going into 2015 with a rotation headlined by Tanaka, Nathan Evoldi and Michael Pineda. With Scherzer, the Yankees easily win the A.L. East in 2015 and who knows what happens after that? Scherzer has won two Cy Young awards with the Nationals since then. He’s as nasty, tough and durable as they come. This didn’t make sense five years ago, and makes less sense now.
This one is probably the easiest to swallow of all of these names. Price, also 29 and also with a Cy Young already under his belt, was coming off an 18-5 season with a 2.45 ERA. You probably remember him almost singlehandedly knocking the Yankees out of the division lead and into the wild card game. He was an awesome deadline acquisition for the Blue Jays that summer. I believe Cash stayed away because of makeup concerns and one of the worst playoff resumes ever at the time. Price is sensitive and aloof, and I don’t think he would have been a fit in New York or the Yankee clubhouse. I’m cool with passing on him, especially since he got $217 million over seven years. The back of that contract will be ugly.
Man this one stings. The Yankees had a chance to acquire Verlander during the waiver deadline in August of 2017. Every team did! Verlander was 34 and only having a so-so season at 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA. However, the Astros analytics department clearly outclassed the Yankees analytics department that summer. They saw Verlander still had his velocity and a crazy high spin rate. Once they acquired him, they did extensive video work with him and the rest is history. Verlander essentially single handedly knocked the Yankees out of the 2017 playoffs. They couldn’t hit him. They could barely make contact. Verlander combined to pump out 18 innings and allowed just one run during that ALCS. If the Yankees had Verlander, they easily beat the Astros and probably roll over the Dodgers as well. Verlander is still dominating, and still tormenting the Yankees every time the two teams get together.
After losing in the playoffs to a team with a much better rotation, Cashman set out to improve his staff. With Gerrit Cole on the block, the fit was obvious. The Yankees had drafted Cole out of high school back in 2008, and had long been enamored with his stuff as well as his makeup. A tall, hard throwing strikeout machine, Cole was exactly what the Yankees look for in a pitcher. Despite extensive talks with Pittsburgh, a deal never got done. The Pirates kept asking about Gleyber Torres. Cashman wanted to center the deal around Clint Frazier or Miguel Andujar.
Instead, the Pirates pivoted and accepted a much lesser package from Houston. This seems like a classic case of a team demanding way more from the Yankees than they would from other teams. It reminded me of the 2003 offseason, when the Diamondbacks were demanding Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano for Curt Schilling. Then they turned around and essentially gave him to Boston for a bag of donuts. It’s tough to blame Cash here because I wouldn’t have given up Gleyber either. Pittsburgh’s recent trade debacle with Tampa in the Chris Archer deal shows that they have no idea what they are doing when it comes to trades. (Along with their consistent losing history.)
Another scenario that seemed like an obvious fit. Corbin was 29 and had just finished 5th in the Cy Young race. He had sported a 3.15 ERA in 2018. A two-time All-Star from upstate New York, Corbin had expressed a desire to wear the pinstripes. However, the Yankees never showed serious interest. They met with Corbin, but they declined to make a formal offer. It was said that the Yankees were comfortable committing around $90 million to Corbin over 4-5 years. He ended up getting $140 million over six from Washington.
The Yankees either totally misread the market or they just don’t think Corbin is very good. Corbin is currently 5-4 with a 3.59 ERA with Washington. Instead of signing Corbin, the Yankees decided on an older, less talented, cheaper pitcher in J.A. Happ. The Yankees weren’t comfortable paying Corbin through his age 34 season, but they had no trouble committing to Happ through age 37 (and possibly 38 if his option vests.) Happ is declining in pretty much every category, and just isn’t as good as he was. The Yankees did make a nice trade for James Paxton, however, their farm system took another hit and has thinned out considerably. It would have been nice to grab Corbin for nothing but cash, the Yankees’ greatest competitive advantage.
Last but not least, Dallas Keuchel. Unlike the pitchers mentioned before, Keuchel could have been had for a very minimal commitment. For $13 million, the Yankees could have added a former Cy Young winner and world champion to help stabilize an ailing rotation and save a depleted bullpen. Instead, they would only offer $11 million. This has to be the silliest mistake of all of them because of how insignificant the difference is. You almost have to laugh at how stupid this decision is. The Yankees made over $600 million in revenue in 2018 and should easily eclipse that this year. They are also in the final stages of wrapping up a $3.4 BILLION deal involving the YES Network and Amazon. They have had four different starters hit the disabled list already this off season. And they said no over $2 million. Shame on them.