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The New York Yankees have three free agent starting pitchers in their crosshairs.
Ensuring Aaron Judge doesn’t end up signing with the San Francisco Giants or anywhere else is priority number one for the New York Yankees this offseason. Their backup plans if he does leave aren’t good enough. In addition to re-signing him, the club is hoping to land a starting pitcher in free agency.
The Yankees aren’t looking to settle for a lower tier of starter either. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, three of the best starting pitchers out there are in their free agency crosshairs.
Reigning American League Cy Young winner and longtime Yankees foe Justin Verlander, Japanese star Kodai Senga, and rising lefty Carlos Rodon are all reported targets.
Which free agent starting pitcher makes the most sense for the Yankees?
The Yankees have been active this offseason at least in terms of turning over every rock they can. In an attempt to not only replace but possibly upgrade over free agent Jameson Taillon, they’ve turned their attention to some of the top free agents available.
Verlander in a Yankees uniform would be the ultimate move. It would remind everyone that a Steinbrenner still runs the team. Only signing Jacob deGrom away from the New York Mets might get more attention.
That’s not to negate what signing Senga would do. The Yankees have routinely been buyers in the international market. Whether it’s past signings like Hideki Irabu or much more successful ones like Hideki Matsui, we can never rule out the Yankees when it comes to foreign stars. Having missed out on Shohei Ohtani a few years ago, they could be looking to make a splash with Senga.
Finally, there’s Rodon who seems to be possibly the most realistic of all. Verlander returning to the Houston Astros or replacing deGrom on the Mets to reunite with former Detroit Tigers teammate Max Scherzer feels more appropriate. Senga, with teams out there in much greater need of a starting pitcher, might be well-advised to stay clear of the intense media spotlight in the Big Apple. Rodon, who is seasoned enough and looking to capitalize on putting together two straight productive seasons, could end up as the best fit for the Yankees.
While they do already have five potential starters, there are plenty of questions. Can Luis Severino stay healthy? How much can they really trust Domingo German? Did they land another Sonny Gray when picking up Frankie Montas?
The Yankees are looking to finally climb over the Astros. Signing Verlander away from them would be the move to make to give them the best shot. It is also the shortest plan. Senga and Rodon have multi-year contracts coming their way, possibly double the length of whatever Verlander gets.
Given the selection, Rodon checks off all of the boxes except for one: will he fold in New York? It’s a question nobody ever knows until it’s too late to do anything about it.