Former Houston Astro Charlie Morton inked a two year, $30 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. I think the New York Yankees should have been deeper in the running for the All-Star pitcher.
The New York Yankees need to improve the starting rotation! We can’t beat the Red Sox without adding better starters! Brian Cashman needs to stop being so cheap and sign a big name!
The above is all there is regarding the starting pitching market on New York Yankees twitter. As much as I hate to say it, they have a point.
The 2018 Yankees were lacking two main components. The ability to hit with runners in scoring position and a reliable starting rotation.
Despite the narrative, the pitching staff put up pretty solid numbers overall. The team was 10th overall in the league with a team ERA of 3.78. For reference, the World Series Champion (this team shall not be named) finished eighth in the league with a team ERA of 3.76. So, by comparison, the Yankees numbers were not terrible but clearly leave plenty of room for improvement.
What the Yankees really need, however, is reliability in the rotation.
Outside of Luis Severino before the All-Star break and Masahiro Tanaka after the All-Star break, the team didn’t have a pitcher they could give the ball to and say, “We’re definitely getting a win with this guy on the mound today.”
That’s something a championship team needs.
The Yankees had a lot of guys who could give you a quality start every day and give the offense a chance to win it. J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia were arms that fit that mold. Guys like Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga, and even Luis Cessa were capable of filling in for an injured starter and holding it down just well enough for a powerful offense to pick up the slack.
None of those guys are “give me the ball and stay in the dugout” type arms, though. Severino, assuming he has his at least decent stuff, and Tanaka, are the only pitchers that were capable of giving seven innings of 1-2 run ball any given start.
So Cashman addressed this problem early by going out and trading for Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton. The Big Maple was a big acquisition early in the offseason and I thought it would set the tone for aggressive moves by the front office.
Instead, the Yankees have made very little noise, claiming that “the deals aren’t right” and “we don’t want to give ______ that many years” which is becoming absolutely infuriating.
What’s more infuriating is that the Tampa Bay Rays signed All-Star Charlie Morton for two years, $30 million.
Free agent starter Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal, sources told Yahoo Sports.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2018
Why weren’t the Yankees in on this guy?
Two years at $15 million each for someone who has clearly figured something out in Houston? He had a higher WAR at 3.5 in his age-34 season than he has in his entire career at 2.7. He showcased a 15-3 record in 30 starts and had the best ERA of his career at 3.13. He could have gotten a way better deal than two years for $30 million.
The reason I would have assumed the Yankees were out on Morton was due to the idea that Cashman doesn’t like dishing out big years to pitchers. We saw it earlier in the month when Patrick Corbin signed with the Washington Nationals for six years, $140 million when the Yankees highest offer was five years, $100 million.
If Cashman isn’t going to overpay for starting pitching, that’s fine. There are plenty of trade options to bolster the rotation. But Charlie Morton was far from overpaid and there were no serious rumors that the Yankees were even pursuing the frontline arm.
I’m pretty upset that the Yankees didn’t at least kick the tires on what a Morton deal could look like. If they had seriously considered it, they probably would have realized that they could acquire the last rotation piece they needed without overpaying or parting with Miguel Andujar and Estevan Florial.
This is an absolute steal for the Rays and they’re starting to look like a really competitive team. They have two frontline starters in Morton and Blake Snell along with proven success with the bullpenning strategy.
The Yankees should have been in on Charlie Morton considering how few years and moderate money Tampa committed to him.
Oh, and Morton also knows what it takes to win a ring. Seems like a quality the New York Yankees might be interested in.