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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 1/13/24

Yanks pitching target Hicks signs with the Giants; Yanks were rejected by Snell before committing to Stroman; New York got a bargain in Stroman but still needs more; Rodón could make or break the Yankees’ season

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mark Taylor/Getty Images

New York Post | Justin Terranova: The Yankees had been coveting flame-throwing right-hander Jordan Hicks for the back of their bullpen. His 103-mph sinker would have looked nice coming on in the late innings on his sinker, but the San Francisco Giants had other plans.

They signed Hicks to a four-year, $44 million contract, but with a catch: he is expected to work as a starter. There is no way to compete with that offer and plan, since pitchers often prefer to start for a myriad of reasons (more action, more potential for future earnings, etc.). Hicks has appeared in more than 200 games throughout his career, but only eight of those were starts. | Manuel Gómez: Before signing Marcus Stroman to a two-year deal worth $37 million, the Yankees were very much interested in reigning NL Cy Young Blake Snell. Recent reports say that they even made a contract offer to him: five years, $150 million ($30 million AAV), per reporter Mike Rodriguez. Snell rejected that proposal, and then the Yanks pivoted to Stroman. They had previously touched base with the White Sox for Dylan Cease and learned that Jordan Montgomery doesn’t have the Yankees as his first option in free agency.

Newsday | Laura Albanese: Fans might or might not like Stroman, but the price (two-years, $37 million with a vesting option for 2026) seems right for an All-Star pitcher who hasn’t had an ERA above 4.00 since 2018. “When healthy, he eats innings, has excellent control, and is a bona fide gamer with a career 3.65 ERA. He was even mentioned in early Cy Young speculation after pitching to a sub-3 ERA in the first half of last season,” Albanese writes.

However, she goes on to assert that the Yankees still need help. “Fans need to hope that Cashman is just playing a waiting game, and seeing if prices come down, because if the Yankees are committed to going all in, they almost certainly need a better rotation,” she correctly points out. | Randy Miller: The Yankees, after signing Stroman, now have five legitimate options for their rotation: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt, and their new acquisition. There is the sensation that the unit still needs an arm or two to make sure they enter the 2024 campaign with the most possible quality options. In any case, Stroman is not the key to the Yankees’ year.

Neither is Cole, or Schmidt: it’s Rodón. Injuries and inconsistency marred his 2023 performance and made him look like a shell of himself, but if he is healthy and effective this time around, the unit could look unstoppable. “When Rodon is right and healthy, he racks up strikeouts throwing mostly high-90s fastballs and nasty sliders. He wasn’t right or healthy much last year and the disappointment contributed to the Yankees missing the playoffs with an 82-80 record,” Miller wrote.

You could say that Rodón’s performance will make or break the Yankees rotation as things stand today.