For much of the offseason, the New York Yankees laid low and continued their pursuit of infielder DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu re-signing with the Yankees always felt like the most likely outcome, though it took longer than I think most people expected. Last week the two sides met in the middle on a six-year contract worth $90 million.
The Yankees didn't wait long to make their next move. Just a few hours later, they agreed to a one-year contract worth $11 million with Corey Kluber. Kluber threw for scouts last week and he received multiple offers north of $10 million, reports SNY's Andy Martino. Martino says the Yankees did not make the best offer, but Kluber wanted to play in New York, so a deal got done.
Not long after the Yankees closed the deal with Kluber, unsubstantiated rumors circulated saying New York was pursuing Reds right-hander Luis Castillo, and Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar were going to headline the trade package. Those rumors were quickly shot down. Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall called them a fabrication.
"(The rumors) are completely false," Krall told reporters over the weekend. "We intend to have (Castillo) as a member of our rotation for 2021."
The word "intend" leaves a little wiggle room -- I'm sure there was a point where the Rays could say they "intended" to have Blake Snell in the rotation this season -- though a Castillo trade is unlikely. The Yankees have indeed checked in, the same way many other teams checked in. Castillo is young, excellent, affordable, and under control long-term. Every team would love to have him.
The Yankees plan to get under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold this coming season and the Kluber and LeMahieu deals leave them with $6 million or so in spending room. It's not much, and according to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Yankees want to add more pitching depth and figure out a way to re-sign Brett Gardner. Someone (Adam Ottavino?) may be on the way out to clear money.
New York's rotation behind Gerrit Cole remains shaky, with Kluber (one inning in 2020) joining Domingo German (served domestic violence suspension in 2020), youngsters Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt (both will have workload restrictions in 2021), and lefty Jordan Montgomery. Luis Severino is due back from Tommy John surgery at midseason. It's no surprise they want more pitching.
Now that the Castillo rumor has been shot down, here are five pitchers the Yankees could pursue on the trade market to bolster their rotation prior to spring training. The pitchers are listed alphabetically.