If the 2018 season started today, the Yankees’ rotation surprisingly might look exactly like it did on the last day of the regular season. There was a chance that the Yankees had seen the last of both CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka when their playoff run ended. However, Tanaka decided not to opt out of his contract, and Sabathia was recently inked to a one-year deal. Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, and Jordan Montgomery round out the rest of the rotation.
Although the Yankees’ rotation is fine as it is, Brian Cashman is still looking to make improvements. Over the past few weeks, the Yankees have looked into the possibility of acquiring Gerrit Cole, Michael Fulmer, or Chris Archer. The Yankees seem to have made to the most progress in trade discussions with the Pirates for Cole, but the rumors have died down again. The Yankees are also exploring the possibility of signing Yu Darvish. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are one of many teams waiting to see if Darvish’s price will drop.
Darvish is coming off of a down season, at least compared to his career numbers. He finished the year with a 3.86 ERA and 3.83 FIP, and was worth 3.5 fWAR. While he walked less batters than usual (2.80 BB/9), he also gave up more home runs than usual (1.30 HR/9). Of course, most fans will remember his World Series performances more than anything else that happened during his 2017 season. Darvish made two starts against Houston, and gave up eight earned runs during the 3.1 innings that he pitched. His first start was bad, but the Dodgers stuck with him in Game Seven. Later, the Astros revealed that Darvish had been tipping his pitches. This sounds like something that could be easy to correct, since it is a known issue, but Darvish had that problem earlier in the season, too.
If the Yankees did sign Darvish, Montgomery would likely be the odd man out in the rotation. As Jason recently mused, though he was fine during his first year in the majors, Monty is the one who could be sent down to Triple-A. You can never have too many starting pitchers, though, especially with Sabathia’s bad knee. It would be wise for the Yankees to improve the rotation in some way between now and April, but it remains to be seen if the Yankees could sign Darvish and get under the luxury tax threshold (MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would end up with a six-year deal in the $160 million range).
Would you rather see the Yankees sign Darvish or trade for Cole (or one of the other pitchers they’ve been connected to)?