The Yankees’ starting rotation is not in great shape. Masahiro Tanaka is a fine number one, but there is a quick drop-off in performance with Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. The former is maddeningly inconsistent, and the latter is coming off his first good season since 2012. Beyond them? Who knows. It’s a hodgepodge of uneasy names, with Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and Adam Warren all in the mix.
2017 seems to be shaping up as another development-focused year for the Yankees, and that’s fine. However, the team is ostensibly hoping to compete as well, and Hal Steinbrenner loves to prattle on and on about having a “championship-caliber club.” As currently constructed, this is not a championship-caliber club. They need reinforcements in the rotation, and according to Bryan Hoch, Jason Hammel might be the answer:
Pitching is the Yankees' priority as they prepare for spring. Though the club continues to say it is willing to go forward with what it has, it recognizes the potential benefit of adding a starter to a mix that counts Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia as its only locks...
Free agent Jason Hammel is among those who have received some level of interest from the Yankees, who also could pursue another reliever despite having Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and potentially Adam Warren in the bullpen.
Hammel was previously discussed as a potential free agent target, having notched a 3.83 ERA in 166 2⁄3 innings with the Cubs last year. He is by no means a reliable starter, but his recent major-league success offers more assurance than anyone from the fourth/fifth starter hodgepodge. His relatively recent AL East experience with the Orioles doesn’t hurt either.
Some fans might be worried about the youngsters from that back-of-the-rotation mix not receiving enough time as a consequence of Hammel’s presence, but rest assured, they will get their exposure regardless. Just take a look at where the New York Mets’ rotation was on Opening Day 2016 and where it was at year’s end (and they were a playoff team, no less). Teams need many more than just five starters in a season.
Pitchers are going to get hurt, and there will be another spot open anyway. Putting a Band-Aid on the rotation with a one-year deal to Hammel isn’t going to ruin anything. If he doesn’t pitch well, then he doesn’t have to stay. It’s a very low-risk move, and one that is quite logical. If it works out well, then Hammel can offer some surprising help to the Yankees the way that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon did for them in their AL East title run in 2011.
The only catch is that Hammel seems to be holding out for a two-year deal. Giving him a two-year deal honestly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, either, as the Yankees can afford to write him off if needed. Regardless, if no one steps up with a multi-year offer for Hammel, he’s going to have to sign somewhere. The Yankees would be a fine fit.