Gerrit Cole’s officially in pinstripes, and the Yankees have done the vast majority of their offseason spending. However, Dellin Betances is looking increasingly likely to sign elsewhere, and Brian Cashman is always looking for a diamond in the rough to upgrade his roster. Just look at the acquisition of Mike Tauchman, who was traded to the Yankees just days before the season opener.
There are still a handful of intriguing free agent pitchers on the market that should be pretty easy to acquire as far as contractual terms go. Could some of these players interest the Yankees as they round out their roster?
Few players have had a more up and down MLB career over the past decade than 31-year-old right-hander Trevor Cahill. He’s been a reliable starter at times, a dominant reliever at others, and an injury-ravaged swingman in between. Last season he pitched 102.1 innings as both a starter and a reliever for the Angels, and the result was an ugly 5.98 ERA.
However, the spin rate on his curveball was in the 96th percentile of all MLB pitchers, according to Statcast, and opponents registered a .196 xBA against the pitch. He’s also only a year removed from posting a 3.76 ERA in 110.0 innings as a starter with the Oakland A’s in 2018. He could be an interesting option in a similar role to the one played by Adam Warren in previous years (and future years?).
Speaking of elite spin rates, Hill’s 2019 curveball spin rate and fastball spin rate both registered in the top 10% of MLB pitchers last season. Unfortunately, an elbow injury limited Hill to only 13 starts, but he went 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in those outings.
Hill’s recovering from elbow surgery and might not be ready to pitch until June, but he’s expressed a desire to pitch in a big market and he already enjoyed a 14-game stint with the Yankees in 2014, pitching to a 1.69 ERA out of the pen. Could the Yankees get Hill on an incentive-laden deal in hopes that he can fool lefties in the second half of the season? It could be worth exploring.
McHugh might be the most sought-after reliever of this bunch. He battled elbow issues all last season, but finished fourth among American League relievers with a 1.99 ERA in 72.1 IP in 2018.
The Astros tried to transition McHugh back to the rotation after his dominance in the bullpen, so perhaps a return to the pen could revamp his career on a one-year deal outside of Houston. His slider has become one of the most dominant pitches around the league the past two seasons and could be a weapon if he proves healthy enough to pitch in 2020. The Yankees have targeted pitchers with elite slider spin rates in the past like Sonny Gray, Adam Ottavino, and Cory Gearrin, so McHugh could fall in line with their philosophies.
Many were surprised to see Tyler Lyons, who pitched only 12.2 regular season innings, on the Yankees postseason roster. The Yankees signed Lyons to a minor league contract in August and utilized him in 11 major league games down the stretch.
The veteran left-hander was a solid contributor for the Cardinals from 2015-2017 and he’s had a track record of success against lefties over the span of five major league seasons. Lyons pitched to a 2.83 ERA with an 11.33 K/9 in 54.0 innings in 2017. If he can come close to replicating that production he could be worth taking a flier on in 2020.