The New York Yankees need to bolster their starting rotation and should look no further than Jon Lester.
The New York Yankees are in dire need of adding a veteran starting pitcher to their mediocre starting rotation before the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
As it stands today, it’s a Yankees’ rotation that is projected to start the year without a staple in Masahiro Tanaka, who is currently a free agent. Tanaka posted a stellar 3.74 ERA through seven seasons with the Yankees; he followed that up with a stout career 3.33 postseason ERA.
We’ve grown accustomed to the New York Yankees willingly spending in free agency to land the top available talent. Still, they’ve seemingly pulled back the reins heading into 2021 by not rushing out to sign Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, or Marcus Stroman to reinforce their rotation.
New York Yankees
- 5 under-the-radar starting pitching targets for the YankeesMLB rumors: 3 teams that could steal DJ LeMahieu from Yankees3 reasons the Yankees won’t break the bank for D.J. LeMahieuThe Tigers social media team just hilariously trolled the Yankees3 teams leading the pack for ex-Cubs stud Kyle Schwarber
By not rushing out to sign a ‘cream of the crop’ free-agent starter, it’s become apparent the New York Yankees hope to remain under the $210 million CBT threshold and most definitely staying below the tier two luxury tax category.
The ‘old’ Yankees unquestionably would not have let players such as Tanaka or D.J. LeMahieu hit the open market. The George Steinbrenner Yankees probably wouldn’t have allowed the second-tier crop of free agents like Brett Gardner, J.A. Happ, or James Paxton to hit the open market without having a ‘proven’ replacement imminent.
Severino went under the knife at the end of February this past year and should be ready to contribute at some point in 2021, but may not be ready by the start of the season.
New York will field Cole, followed by Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, leaving two spots to be determined later. One spot will need a placeholder until Severino is ready to return; the other will be occupied by an unproven starter like Deivi Garcia, Michael King, or Clarke Schmidt.
The New York Yankees need to consider signing veteran free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester.
The 37-year old South Paw isn’t what he once was, but he can still be a valuable piece to New York’s rotation as they try to compete in a powerful division now headlined by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Chicago Cubs decided to buy-out Lester’s option worth $25 million for the 2021 season, leaving his status uncertain. The Cubs and Lester have a mutual interest in a reunion, but after being reportedly disheartened by Chicago’s recent offer, Jon Lester may be available for the taking.
Last season the crafty-lefty produced a magnificent 1.06 ERA, along with a .197 OBP through his first three starts before imploding en route to an overall record of 3-3 accompanied by an appalling ERA of 5.16 and 1.328 WHIP.
Lester won’t blow anyone away with a firm fastball, but having taken a similar career path to Sabathia, Lester, when right, keeps hitters off-balance by featuring a cutter that is followed by a devastating wipeout curveball.
According to FanGraphs, Lester produced a career-high 38.9% hard-hit rate, which equals 12.3% of his pitches finding the barrel of the bat. To give you an example, in 2016, his barrel rate had been 3.7%, and just 7% in 2019.
If the Yankees opt to roll the dice with Lester, don’t let the name inflate your expectations. During the 2019 season, Lester allowed a league-high 205 hits while striking out just 165 batters in 171.2 innings of work. Lester made 31 starts earning a 13-10 record with the Cubs while maintaining an elevated 4.46 ERA.
In the 2020 shortened season, it was much of the same from Lester.
The veteran yielded 64 hits in 61 innings of work, striking out 42 batters along with walking 17. The Yankees should consider bringing in Lester to stabilize the backend of their rotation, similar to how New York used Sabathia at the end of his career.
Similar free-agent options are Cole Hamels, Jake Arrieta, Mike Leake, Rick Porcello, and Adam Wainwright.