The New York Yankees need to add starting pitching, and during such a bizarre offseason, Garrett Richards might just be the answer.
The MLB offseason is well underway, but the New York Yankees have been pretty quiet, so far.
It appears as though bringing DJ LeMahieu back is their No. 1 priority, at the moment, but the starting rotation is something that must be addressed, as well.
New York’s rotation, which was inconsistent last season, just became a lot weaker. James Paxton who, when healthy, had been one of the better pitchers in the Yankees’ rotation over the last couple of seasons, is now a free agent.
J.A. Happ, who pitched surprisingly well for the Yankees during the latter part of the 2020 season and provided the pitching staff with depth, is also a free agent.
Add Masahiro Tanaka, one of the cornerstone rotational pieces for the Yankees over the past several seasons and one of their most important hurlers during the playoffs, to that list.
While the Yankees could be working to bring Tanaka back, it isn’t guaranteed and even if they do, simply bringing him back isn’t enough.
The Yankees have lost several starters to free agency, but their rotation faces other issues, as well.
Luis Severino, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, isn’t expected to return to the team until around mid-season and it’s unclear how effective he’ll be after missing so much time.
A rotation comprised of Gerrit Cole, Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery, potentially Domingo German and/or Clarke Schmidt, Severino for half the season, and even Tanaka if he does end up returning certainly isn’t good enough for a team with its sights set on the World Series.
With that being said, the Yankees need to add some arms to the rotation, and Garrett Richards might be just the man for the job.
Richards, who is 32 years old, is coming off a two-year stint with the San Diego Padres and is currently a free agent. Prior to that, he spent eight years with the Los Angeles Angels, the team that drafted him.
For his career, Richards is 47-41 with a 3.62 ERA, 106 ERA+, 3.68 FIP, 1.255 WHIP, 0.8 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, 51.6 GB%, and 3.90 SIERA.
Richards has slowed down lately after undergoing biometrics surgery in 2016 and Tommy John surgery in 2018 combined with an injury-shortened 2017 season, as well.
His performance in San Diego wasn’t great — he was even moved to the bullpen. And of course, he’s on the wrong side of 30. For these reasons, Richards wouldn’t be used as a top of the rotation guy but would make for a solid No. 4.
Richards’ stuff is particularly good because of his high spin rate, something that even former Yankees manager Joe Girardi has praised. Richards has some of the highest spin rates in the league on both his fastball and curveball.
The fact that he induces a relatively high amount of ground balls is a little concerning, given the fact that the Yankees’ infield defense last year was quite poor.
However, his ground ball rate has been decreasing year by year and there’s hope that the Yankees will be a little more disciplined in the field next season.
Richards’ career numbers are quite solid and he would provide good depth to this rotation.
His especially high spin rate is something that any organization would want from a pitcher, and he’s clearly capable of benefitting the team in an important way.
In the aftermath of such a unique (to say the least) season, it’s unlikely that the Yankees will be willing to trade for a starting pitcher.
Richards is undeniably one of the best free-agent starters in such a weak class. That’s something the Yankees should take advantage of moving forward.