Chris Archer Yankees

Do the Yankees Really Need Another Starter?

John Salvatore

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The New York Yankees are loaded this season. Five players on the Yankees roster were all-stars in 2017. Four of the Yankees’ starting pitchers have been aces. Three of those pitchers have garnered Cy Young votes within the past three seasons.
Giancarlo Stanton was added during the off-season. Several Yankee prospects came in and had excellent camps. Many Yankee prospects who will start the 2018 season in Scranton would be Opening Day starters on other MLB teams.

However, it seems like half the articles online suggest that the Yankees can’t win without making some big pitching addition.

The Yankees should spend to the cap on another starting pitcher, one article says. Yankees should trade its top prospects for Chris Archer, posits another. If you were to believe the comments on Twitter, you’d think the Yankees were completely devoid of pitching.

Some analysts think the Yankees only have three solid pitchers:

“The Yankees are saddled with a concerning issue in their starting rotation.”

Its author bemoans that the Yankees only have three starters who are rock solid. The author included CC Sabathia as part of that trio but neglected Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery. Gray and Montgomery were both objectively better than Sabathia last season, so the article does have additional flaws.

The real question is: Why do so many people think the Yankees starting rotation is a concern?

Over the past few weeks, the Yankees have been linked to Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and Chris Archer, among others.

Cobb is a decent pitcher, though on the Yankees he would be fighting for spot starts. Cobb is looking for a three-year deal but signing him could impede Chad Green and or Domingo German from transitioning to the rotation next season.

Lance Lynn posted solid seasons from 2013-2015.  Unfortunately, Lynn missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and was mediocre in 2017. Lynn’s strikeouts were down, his walk rate was up, and his home run rate nearly doubled. His ERA was a respectable 3.43, but his bloated FIP of 4.82 suggests that his true ERA should be much higher. The Minnesota Twins recently signed him for $12 million, a bit expensive for a player with his downward trending metrics.

Chris Archer would be the one true upgrade to the Yankees pitching rotation. Archer posted a career high K/9 in 2017, while hitting the 200 IP mark for the third consecutive year. Unlike Lynn, Archer’s FIP is 3.40, suggesting he is a better pitcher than his 4.07 ERA suggests.

Archer is under contract through the 2019 season, with team options of $9 million and $11 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively. A controllable pitcher of Archer’s caliber means the Tampa Bay Rays are going to want several high-end prospects in return.

Securing Archer would mean parting with one or more of the following players: Gleyber Torres, Estevan Florial, Chance Adams, Domingo German, Justus Sheffield, etc.

It’s early and there’s no need to panic. The Yankees won 91 games last year, and it’s reasonable to predict that this team will win 95+ games in 2018. Currently, the Yankees are about $20 million below the salary cap. The salary cap room plus having excess prospects gives the Yankees plenty of options to manoeuvre near the trade deadline.

Right now, it doesn’t make sense to spend to the cap for a number six starter. If there’s an injury, Chance Adams or Domingo German could be called up. Chad Green could also be stretched out. There are plenty of depth moves that can be made from within the Yankees current 40-man roster.

The Yankees are deep, and it’s time to sit back and watch.

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