The New York Yankees are officially out of the Shohei Otani sweepstakes, an unfortunate turn of events for a team looking for an added boost to their pitching rotation and at the designated hitter spot in the lineup.
It’s not like this team has an enormously long checklist this offseason. After all, they defied the “rebuilding” odds and made it to the ALCS, reaching the seventh game before falling to the Houston Astros.
New manager Aaron Boone is about to inherit the keys to a Ferrari as this Yankees team is loaded with young talent that will ensure their presence among the top of the American League standings for years to come.
But they are one or two pieces away from becoming a serious World Series-winning contender and the opportunity to fill those needs is right now during the offseason, especially during the winter meetings next week.
Here are five free agents the Yankees should pursue this winter:
2017 stats: 14-10 record, 3.53 ERA, 163 strikeouts
2015 NL Cy Young Award winner
A 14-10 season is pedestrian for Arrieta compared to the two years prior to which he went a combined 40-14, including a 22-6 Cy Young Award campaign in 2015.
A superior spin rate that allows his pitches to move drastically has made him a terror for opposing batters over the past few years, making him a solid third or fourth option in New York’s rotation.
But it is concerning that his fly-ball rate increased to over 34 percent in 2017. Fourteen percent of those went for home runs.
Two years ago, his fly ball rate was at 22.8 percent while his home run rate was at just 7.8 percent. Pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark like Yankee Stadium creates a precarious combination should he head to the Bronx, but the prospect of getting another 2015 season out of him would be worth the risk.
2017 stats: 12-10 record, 3.66 ERA, 128 strikeouts
This isn’t a pitcher that is going to overpower you, but Alex Cobb can eat innings. Last season, he lasted at least five innings in 27 of his 29 starts. In 10 of those, he went seven or more.
That kind of dependability will do wonders when it comes to bullpen conservation, especially later in the season.
2017 stats: 10-12 record, 3.86 ERA, 209 strikeouts
A difficult 2017 season was Darvish’s first full season since 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The acclimation to a full workload for the first time in four years could have been a reason why the 31-year-old slumped.
When he’s on, Darvish is a strikeout machine, having led the American League in punchouts with 277 in 2013.
2017 stats: .246 batting average, 22 HR, 79 RBI
He isn’t flashy, but he’s consistent.
In each of his last four full seasons, Mitch Moreland has hit 23, 23, 22 and 22 home runs respectively. He doesn’t provide speed and won’t hit for average, but he can add some power to the bottom of New York’s lineup.
2017 stats: .193 average, 29 HR, 66 RBI
Napoli’s return to Texas was a mixed bag last year. While he launched 29 home runs, his average dipped to a career-worst .193.
A year removed from hitting 34 round trippers with the Cleveland Indians, there’s no question Napoli will put up solid power numbers in the Bronx, but his average might scare teams away.