A litany of Yankees were outrighted off the 40-man roster on Thursday, but no name drove as much conversation as Domingo Germán. The right-hander’s Yankee career is most likely over, and after how his 2023 ended it’s hard to imagine him getting an MLB contract this winter.
What to make of Germán’s career? He has one sterling accomplishment on his CV, and perhaps more ink spilled about him than any mediocre starter in recent MLB history. His fans will point to the promise of an 18-win 2019, which of course was immediately followed by him missing all of 2020 on suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. His perfect game this season, the 24th in major league history, preceded a clubhouse meltdown that saw him removed from the roster with more than a month to go in the season.
In between various injury stints, he was always just kinda there as depth, the sixth or seventh rotation option that all too frequently had to become a three or four when someone else was hurt. Even with his 2020 suspension, he’s thrown 100 more innings since 2018 than Luis Severino, and just 40 fewer than Nestor Cortes since the latter broke into the rotation in 2021.
Yet despite his presence on the roster being one of the more debated and controversial elements of the Baby Bomber era, so much of his 522.1 MLB innings feel like empty calories. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Yankee fan who honestly could say they enjoyed watching him pitch, or that outside of his perfect game there’s a start — even one in that 2018 campaign — that you remember in a standout way.
I wrote Germán’s report card a couple of weeks ago, well before we knew he would be outrighted off the roster. You can read it for yourself but I think I actually got it a bit wrong; it doesn’t seem like the decision to bring him back or not was all that hard. I would have thought the potential of about a win’s worth of starting pitching for $5 million would entice an increasingly-budget-conscious front office, but it seems that’s just not worth the trouble for Brian Cashman and company.
In a way, maybe that approach to Germán is the one that we should all take. We’ve spent so much time debating his spot on the roster, the merits of changed behavior and the asymmetry of information that exists between fans and the Yankees. Now, he’s gone from the org and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they bring him back. With a couple of keystrokes, the Yankees closed the book on Domingo Germán.
You can view that as the cynical nature of baseball, that he was just valuable enough through the suspension and up until his alcohol-exacerbated meltdown to make excuses for, to back and support. Once that value proposition changed, there was no farewell or grandstanding, he was just gone.
On the other hand, maybe the Yankees’ FO are the smart ones after all. Maybe we’d all be better off to close our own individual books on Germán. I, for one, am glad he checked himself into a rehab facility, and I’m glad that we won’t have to spin our wheels debating his status with the club after all these years.