Yankees Lance Lynn Alex Cobb
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic via Getty Images

Opting not to sign free agent starters Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb is not only the right move for the New York Yankees in 2018, but beyond.

Sure, Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb would make the New York Yankees 2018 starting rotation stronger. No one disputes that. After all, you can never have too much pitching.

But Sunday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone all but put to rest the idea that the team would add one of those two free-agent starters before Opening Day.

“At this point, I don’t see those guys as realistic options,” he told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. ” … it’s my understanding that those guys really aren’t in play for us.”

Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. Here’s why.

Financial Cost


Financially, signing either one would likely eat up most, if not all, of the team’s remaining offseason spending cash, believed to be around $15 million. While there’s a case to be made for spending that money now, the smarter move is to hold onto it for a rainy day.

More specifically, hold it until we get closer to the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July when the club could potentially be dealing with injuries and/or a lack of performance at a specific position that needs to be addressed.

But the financial cost isn’t just applicable to the upcoming season. It remains unlikely that Cobb or Lynn would settle for a one-year “show me” contract. With a potentially historic free agent class awaiting the Yankees next offseason, it just doesn’t make sense to eat up future payroll by strengthening an area that, quite frankly, isn’t an area of need.

Message

Put yourself in Jordan Montgomery‘s shoes. All the 25-year-old did as a rookie was go 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while matching Washington’s Max Scherzer with a 26.5 percent hard-contact rate, the lowest among MLB starters with at least 150 innings of work.

As ESNY’s James Kelly wrote recently, Montgomery deserves to be the Yanks’ fifth starter in 2018. What kind of message would signing Lynn or Cobb send to Montgomery?

You could argue, I suppose, that the message would be “nothing is guaranteed, you have to earn your spot on this roster.” And that’s not a bad message to send. But how, exactly, could you justify that when neither Cobb nor Lynn is clearly a better option?

PlayerERAFIPWHIPIPBB/9K/9Hard Contact Rate
Cobb3.664.161.22179.12.26.436.9%
Lynn3.434.821.23186.13.87.429.7%
Montgomery3.884.071.23155.13.08.326.5%

Montgomery is five years younger than Cobb and nearly six years younger than Lynn. He’s a homegrown product with upside—Cobb, and Lynn, are who they are, and both have dealt with major arm issues in the past.

What about Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield, two prospects who are expected to contribute at some point during the 2018 season? What kind of message would adding Cobb and/or Lynn send to them?

Are they untested? Absolutely. But Boone lavished praise on Sheffield after his first Spring Training appearance on Sunday.

“If you had never seen him pitch before and you saw that first inning, he’d open your eyes,” Boone told Newsday‘s Erik Boland. “It was special…even at inning (the fourth) I thought he regrouped…All in all I want him to take away a lot of positives from this game.”

“Special” isn’t a word you’ll hear tossed around when describing Cobb or Lynn. Why would the Yankees—or any team—want to discourage a talent like that by adding more obstacles for him to jump over to make it to the Show?

They wouldn’t. Which is why passing on Lynn, Cobb and the rest of the starters on the free agent market is the best move the Yankees could make.


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