On MLB Network it was reported by Jon Morosi that the New York Yankees could be heavily involved in the José Berríos sweepstakes. Berríos is in the midst of his best statistical season, with career bests in ERA-, SIERA, and K-BB%. With his breakout season coinciding with the Minnesota Twins’ collapse, the Yankees are poised to strike. Their rotation on the surface doesn’t look bad, a 94 ERA- has them as the 12th best rotation in run prevention, but since June 1st, their ERA- is 121, the 20th best. Their offense on the other hand has posted a 115 wRC+ since June 1, so potentially opting for getting a big-time starter and going cheap on bats could be the right path to take.
One of the biggest questions all offseason was with the reliability of the rotation. Injuries, setbacks, and inconsistencies have made this rotation really lackluster. José Berríos is different however, he’s durable, he’s young, and he fits exactly what the Yankees need.
Reliability In the Rotation
The Yankees already have their ace in Gerrit Cole, and during the season will see the return of their No. 2 starter Luis Severino. Jordan Montgomery has the makeup of a really nice back-of-the-rotation starter, but there’s a lot of uncertainty there. Severino hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2019. Cole is still adjusting to post-sticky stuff life. Montgomery is reliable as a No. 4, but right now is being used as a No. 2. Let’s insert Berríos into the equation:
Why am I so confident in Berríos’ reliability? Since 2019, he’s tossed 365 innings, 9th most in the league, with 61 starts (T-7th). He’s averaging six innings per start and doing so with some great run prevention. His ERA- among starters with 200 IP since 2019 ranks T-23rd (80) which is similar to starters like Zack Wheeler, Trevor Bauer, and Lucas Giolito. His FIP- is T-26th at an 85, similar to guys like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Nola. This means in run prevention and FIP he’s one of the 25 best starters in baseball, and with his volume, it makes him a perfect No. 2 starter for the Yankees.
Concern With Peripherals?
Since 2019, José Berríos has a 92 xFIP- (40th) and 4.14 SIERA (38th) which suggest he is overperforming his ERA and FIP. This would be cause for concern for me, but José Berríos has a track record of overperforming. He sports a 0.33 gap in ERA and SIERA since 2017, and that’s because he limits barrels.
This year has been an anomaly for Berríos, as he got off to a bad start in terms of limiting had contact (13.3% barrel%) in his first 9 starts. Since then barrels are down to 3.9% in his last 8, so I expect his barrel rate to continue to drop. When you limit hard contact, it’s very easy to overperform peripheral metrics since most don’t factor that. I expect Berríos with his climb in K% and decreasing barrel rate to blossom more, and make himself a massive asset at the deadline.
Can the Yankees Afford José Berríos?
To answer if the Yankees have the prospects necessary to get Berríos, the answer is a resounding yes. With multiple top 100 prospects and more prospects who will become top 100 soon, they have what it takes to land him. As an offer for Berríos, I think a good deal could be:
Ezequiel Duran 2B
Luis Gil RHP
Kevin Alcantara OF
As prospects climb/fall and Berríos’ bidders drive up the price there could be adjustments, but this would be a rather fair deal, for now.
The Yankees would be giving up valuable pieces, but if it’s for stability in the rotation, they should go all in. Berríos is also going to be under contract for 2022, meaning the Yankees could have Cole, Severino, Berrios, and Montgomery in 2022 as well. It’s a move for this year and for the future, especially seeing that Berríos is extremely young.
It’s time the rotation gets that long-term uplift it’s always needed, and Berríos is that uplift.