With the Astros in the lead to trade for Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have entered the discussion in the free agency bid for Yu Darvish. That puts the Yankees in the hunt for Yu Darvish.
The Yankees starting rotation for 2018 is the following:
While I do think that rotation is much better than people realize, adding another pitcher is something that needs to be considered (going to a 6-man rotation isn’t a bad idea either to lessen the injury risk and make pitchers like Sabathia and Tanaka more effective come October). However, I do not think Darvish is the answer.
Darvish is arguably the best free agent starting pitcher available, thus, he will command a high price for many years. The Yankees are trying to get below the $197 million luxury tax threshold to reset the luxury tax penalty before the massive free agency class of 2018 (Machado, Harper, Kershaw, Keuchel).
Also, Darvish has had Tommy John surgery, so there is that as a concern. He is older (will be 32 in August). Finally, in the 2017 World Series, Darvish was tipping his pitches and the Astros basically made him look like a batting practice pitcher. Many pitchers tip their pitches, they make the necessary adjustments and are fine going forward, so I do think he should be able to address that issue. The biggest problems I have are the injury history and the cost.
The Yankees cannot afford to sign Darvish as a free agent – he will want a longer contract, and the Yankees should not give any pitcher over the age of 30, a long-term, expensive contract again.
If the Yankees need to choose between Darvish and Cole, while neither is a great option in my mind, but going for the younger Cole would be preferable, even if the cost is giving up top prospects Clint Frazier and/or Chance Adams.
I firmly believe the Yankees should hold pat with the starting rotation as it is set today. They have several starting pitching prospects they can bring up to go to a 6-man rotation or in case of injury when needed. This will allow them to see what the prospects have before deciding to push for Kershaw or Keuchel next offseason (whether those players are worth what they will get in free agency is another discussion for another day). CC Sabathia is on what is probably his finally 1-year contract in baseball, so there is a spot in the rotation that will need to be filled for the 2019 season. The Yankees have a deep farm system, so we may have the pitcher already.
The Yankees just missed the World Series with the current starting rotation, so let’s see what they do in 2018 before spending any money and/or prospects to improve something that may not need to be improved.