It’s no secret that the Yankees need to add another arm to their rotation over the offseason. Back in October, it seemed like Masahiro Tanaka would opt of his contract leaving them with two spots to fill. Instead, the Yankees just need to fill the spot vacated by CC Sabathia. Although it’s possible that the Yankees will bring Sabathia back, they have been in talks with the Pirates to trade for Gerrit Cole. A deal like that would involve the Yankees sending Clint Frazier, and an MLB-ready starter like Chance Adams to Pittsburgh. If Brian Cashman decides that the price is too high, the Yankees could take a look at free agent Lance Lynn.
Lynn was drafted by the Cardinals in 2008, and he has been a workhorse for them. After becoming a regular member of their rotation in 2012, he pitched at least 175 innings each year for four straight seasons and struck out 726 batters during that time. Unfortunately, Lynn was forced to have Tommy John surgery in November of 2015, and it was later reported that he had pitched through elbow pain for the better part of the season.
He missed the entire 2016 season as he recovered, but was able to return to the Cardinals’ rotation in 2017. It ended up being a down year for Lynn compared to his performance during previous seasons. He posted a 3.43 ERA, but was only worth 1.4 fWAR. In 2017, his strikeouts dropped to a career-low of 7.39 K/9. His 3.77 BB/9 was the second worst amongst qualified pitchers (Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks took the top honors). Lynn also surrendered more home runs than ever before (1.30 HR/9). His home run problem was particularly bad during the first half of the season, when he gave up 20 of his 27 total home runs, including four in one game against the Orioles.
Despite a down 2017 season, Lynn still finished the year with 186.1 innings pitched over 33 starts. The Yankees could use a starting pitcher who is an innings-eater. However, he is entering his age-31 season, and his velocity has dropped over the past few years, even before the TJ surgery. In 2011, Lynn’s average four seam fastball velocity was 94.2 MPH, and it was down to just 92.6 in 2017. It’s possible that some of his struggles this season can be attributed to it being his first year back from TJS, but his velocity appears to have been trending downward regardless.
This is Lynn’s first taste of free agency, and he is reportedly asking for a contract in the range of $100 million over five years. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Lynn will end up with a more reasonable four-year deal worth $56 million. I can’t imagine Cashman jumping to give out a multi-year deal to an aging pitcher who is already on the decline. The Yankees would probably be better off giving Sabathia a one-year deal instead.
Would you rather see the Yankees trade for Cole or sign someone like Lynn?