Yesterday, news broke that Yankees starting pitcher Frankie Montas would undergo shoulder surgery that could sideline him for the entirety of the 2023 MLB season. He was acquired to be a key part of the rotation via a trade with the Athletics at the deadline in 2022, but unfortunately for general manager Brian Cashman, it seems unlikely that he will reach that goal.
Despite Montas having a rough go of things with the Yankees after the trade, he still had talent, and many fans were looking forward to signs of potential improvement after more experience in the organization. However, now that light has been shed on the injury, it could be time for Cashman to bring in a replacement to fill his rotation spot. A few free agent options remain on the market if New York wants to go down a different path than Domingo Germán or Clarke Schmidt.
A 30-year-old right-hander who pitched for the Twins last season after two seasons with the Angels and five in Baltimore. Bundy saw his Twins team option declined. So he’s sitting on the free-agent market for the taking as probably the best remaining starter with Michael Wacha now in San Diego.
Bundy’s best season was in the COVID-shortened 2020. He had a 3.29 ERA along with a 2.95 FIP and 3.75 xFIP, and his fWAR hit 2.1 in 11 starts and 65.2 innings pitched for the Halos. However, last season in 29 games, he was not nearly as good. Despite still having a positive fWAR at 0.7 in 140 innings pitched, he had a 4.89 ERA and 4.70 xFIP, which are certainly not encouraging. There are some things going in his favor, though.
First, Bundy’s fastball spin is in the 73rd percentile among MLB pitchers; even better, his chase rate sits in the 90th percentile and his walk rate is in the 93rd percentile. Clearly, the control that Bundy has over his pitches is excellent. The problem is that all his other numbers are very poor. His curveball doesn’t spin, and his fastball may spin well but it isn’t fast. The batters also get plenty of barrels on the pitches he throws, which is the biggest problem. He’s surrendered 44 homers in 230.2 innings since the start of 2021, and that’s not a recipe for success at Yankee Stadium.
The next option is Bundy’s teammate in Minnesota, Archer. The 34-year-old righty pitched 102.2 innings last season and for what it’s worth, he ended the season with a positive fWAR of 0.5. But like Bundy, his other numbers like ERA, FIP, and xFIP were not good, and unfortunately, he doesn’t have any percentile numbers from Statcast to create any optimism.
Archer ended last season with a 4.56 ERA, a 4.49 FIP, and a 4.57 xFIP. To make things worse, his fastball velocity was also the second-lowest of his career. It was a rough season for the two time All-Star, and it’s unlikely that there’s a drastic improvement in his numbers. The kindest thing that can be said about him at this point in his career is that on his best days, he’s a modest “five and dive” pitcher. But Archer could prove to be useful in some capacity if pitching coach Matt Blake can work his magic.
Richards could also be an option for the Yankees. He’s another 34-year-old right-hander, but he only started two games for the Texas Rangers before moving into a relied role, where he performed relatively well.
Richards’ numbers in 42.2 innings pitched were good outside of his 5.27 ERA. He had a 3.46 FIP and 3.94 xFIP as well as a 0.3 WAR. His fastball reached an average velocity of 94.4 in 2022, which was in the 64th percentile, and his spin on that particular pitch was in the 68th percentile. There are some interesting things in Richards’ profile, but the real question is: Can he be a starter or is he simply best-suited for the bullpen?
Frankly, none of these options really excite me (no, neither does old friend Michael Pineda), and I doubt that they would really grab the front office’s attention either. However, there is always the possibility that Germán at the back of the rotation may not be what the Yankees think he will be. The likelihood of the Yankees signing one of these guys is low, but there is always a chance.