The offseason has a funny flow to it. Some days you crave Yankees news or rumors, only to find the well dry. Other days you can’t keep up with the flow of information. Today’s the latter of those situations, so here’s an updated news and notes post.
Hal Steinbrenner confident in team’s starting pitching
It took a little while to hear from Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, but he just opened up to Dan Martin of the New York Post. In the conversation, Steinbrenner described missing the World Series as a failure on a particular goal, but he didn’t give the season itself a failing grade. He also reiterated his commitment to fairly consider any potential free agent deal brought before him.
One area of the interview, however, caused a collective eye-roll among Yankees fans. Steinbrenner insisted that the team has plenty of starting pitching heading into 2020.
“If the 2020 season was to start tomorrow, I would feel considerably more confident than I did a year ago at this time,’’ Steinbrenner said. “We will have both Severino and Montgomery back. We now know that [Domingo] German can pitch effectively at this level. And we know [James] Paxton can be the guy that we were hoping for when we made that trade. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka, [J.A.] Happ, [Jonathan] Loaisiga, and perhaps [Deivi] Garcia at some point. A very good rotation.’’
On the one hand, the Yankees’ front office lost the benefit of the doubt after years of passing on elite-caliber starting pitchers. In fact, they haven’t handed out a substantial free agent contract since Masahiro Tanaka. One can easily see this as Steinbrenner softening the ground for an inactive offseason.
That said, look at the calendar. It’s November 1. Free agency hasn’t started in earnest yet—players can’t negotiate with all 30 clubs until November 5. This sounds an awful lot like posturing, doesn’t it? The Yankees have nothing to gain from saying they need starting pitching in a bad way; they would lose a ton of leverage by doing that.
I am as critical of baseball ownership as anyone, but we need more information before we crucify the Yankees for avoiding big-name pitching free agents.
Aroldis Chapman hopes for an extension
According to Jon Heyman, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman wants to get an extension done with the Yankees before his opt-out deadline tomorrow. If the team can’t agree on an extension, he will enter the free agent market, likely with a qualifying offer in tow.
Chapman, 31, pitched to a 2.21 ERA (2.28 FIP) over 57 innings in 2019. He recorded 37 saves in the process. His strikeout rate went down (13.42 K/9), and he lost a tick on his fastball velocity, but he remained an effective closer. He was even voted the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year.
I’m not keen on the idea of extending Chapman for multiple reasons. He has age, declining stuff, and command issues working against him—and those are just the on-field reasons. I would like to see the Yankees call his bluff and let him test free agency.
Nike logo to appear on all MLB uniforms
And finally, there’s uniform news from Chris Creamer to pass along. Starting tomorrow, all teams will have a Nike swoosh emblazoned on their uniform. The Yankees’ classic pinstripes aren’t exempt. You can find a mock-up of at the link above.
The logos stand out for now, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it in no time. Remember the BioFreeze patches on the London Series uniforms? Didn’t think so. How about the New Era logo on caps? There will be a big deal made about the swoosh now and at the start of the season, but they’ll probably blend right in soon enough.