The Yankees decided to tender contracts to everyone on their 40-man roster before the December 2 deadline, but the same can’t be said for many other MLB teams. A handful of former stars or recently serviceable players were cast off by their teams, adding to the list of free agents the Yankees front office will look at to improve their roster for the 2020 season. Here are three non-tendered players who could land on the Yankees’ radar in the coming days, weeks, or months.
Gausman, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, posted a horrible 5.72 ERA last season, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about his future. Gausman is still only 28 years old, and he posted his highest career K/9 (10.03) and lowest xFIP since 2016 last season.
He gave up on his historically hittable slider in 2019 and increased the usage of his splitter. According to Statcast, opponents scorched his fastball to the tune of a .550 SLG, but posted a measly .203 xBA against his splitter, giving him a potentially dangerous offering if he can locate his fastball more effectively moving forward.
Gausman also showed some promise as a relief pitcher, a transition that’s unlocked the potential of many failed starters with impressive stuff (see Zack Britton and Andrew Miller) in the past. In 14 games as a reliever, Gausman registered a 3.10 ERA and a 12.0 K/9. It seems like every season now at least one former starter blossoms in a relief role, and Gausman could be that breakout reliever in 2020.
The Yankees don’t have many holes, but if they lose Didi Gregorius, they’ll have to replace both him and Aaron Hicks on the roster. They could potentially kill two birds with one stone by signing Peraza, who spent significant time at shortstop, second base, and left field in 2019.
Peraza struggled mightily last season, but in 2018 he batted .288 with 14 home runs and a 2.6 WAR. He consistently ranks towards the bottom of the league in terms of exit velocity, but he has bat-to-ball skills and speed (23 steals in 2017 and 2018) that make him an interesting utility option for a team that might be able to use him in multiple roles.
John Ryan Murphy
How about a reunion? The Yankees traded Murphy for Hicks after the 2015 season and he’s bounced around since, failing to produce enough offensively to stick with one team. He’s played for the Twins, Diamondbacks, and Braves over the course of the past four seasons, and he’s kicked around the minor leagues at every stop. If the Yankees lose Austin Romine as a free agent, however, they’ll be left with only Kyle Higashioka to back up Gary Sanchez, and he’s out of minor league options.
The Yankees should be in the market for at least one catcher with major league experience on a minor-league deal. The 28-year-old former Yankee could fit the bill for this type of deal. Murphy has really scuffled offensively since leaving New York, albeit with sporadic playing time. However, the former second-round pick batted .280 in 99 games for New York in 2014 and 2015 as a young catcher, so there’s a chance the team that drafted him would entertain the idea of bringing him back as an emergency replacement for Sanchez or Higashioka.