The Yankees have one less option than they did a day ago to improve their rotation. Right-hander Lucas Giolito signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox worth $38.5 million and will look to bounce back in the daunting AL East. If New York is to go to the mid-tier of the market for starting help, their options are becoming more and more limited.
Alex Eisert did a superb job covering the up-and-down nature of recent seasons for Lucas Giolito, and I recommend checking out the full piece here. One of the highlights of last season is that even though Giolito remained inconsistent, he flashed the ability to be quite the positive force in a staff, even if not the ace of a few years back. The carousel of teams in the second half certainly didn’t help in stability, but it wasn’t the source of all of his issues either.
All that being said, few starters carried as much upside and also a decent amount of reliability in them, strictly from an availability standpoint. Giolito has started 30+ games in each of the past three seasons and has yet to miss significant time since establishing himself in the big leagues.
In a lot of ways, when we look at Giolito we see the middle ground of the mid-tier pool in free agency, and while his contract was affordable for the Yankees, it wasn’t necessarily a bargain. Even for a team like the Yankees, if you are going to fork up nearly $20 million in AAV, there has to be a healthy belief in that player’s ability to bounce back to something resembling his best form, and not just the need to fill innings.
Well, Giolito is now gone, and the Yankees could look to two very distinct paths in filling out the rest of their staff. Either one will tell a lot about how they see their current options and also what they are looking for. As detailed the other day, it’s hard to see them opting for a nine-figure deal for one of the high-profile names remaining.
There is the upside of Marcus Stroman and a name like Hyun-Jin Ryu, options that at this point in their career don’t carry the upside of a Giolito or other names, but will deliver you serviceable innings. Ryu is a weird one to throw in here given the fact that he’s coming off a major injury, but he was solid to the tune of a 3.46 ERA in the 11 starts he made following his return in 2023. And more importantly, the injury concerns should play a role in his demands, which means he’d likely come at a very reasonable price.
Stroman is a known commodity at this point, and while he won’t blow anyone away, the experience and ability to perform in all kinds of situations work in his favor. On the opposite side of this list, you have the go-for-broke picks — gambles a team like the Yankees can probably afford to make, only with the need to be realistic about what they’re getting into.
Bringing Frankie Montas or James Paxton into the fold is great, and at their best, they can give you more than most names available at their price. But it’d be foolish to expect over 250 innings out of the pair combined.
Giolito comes about the closest to representing the middle ground in this exercise, and so it’ll be interesting to see which way the Yankees lean when the club inevitably adds a starter or two.