The New York Yankees have finally found their rotation upgrade, reportedly agreeing to a two-year, $37 million deal with former Cubs righty (and Long Island native) Marcus Stroman. New York had been linked to just about every other available starter of note, from free agents like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery to trade targets like Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber. In the end, though, GM Brian Cashman felt he and every one of the above names were too far apart to get a deal done, and he didn’t want to wait any longer to add pitching.
So Stroman it is, and it’s hard to argue that the Yankees’ rotation isn’t substantially better now than it was 24 hours ago. The righty has his red flags — as all soon-to-be 33-year-old pitchers do — but he’s been a consistently above-average starter for years now and projects to be so again in 2024. The question now becomes: Is New York’s rotation good enough to get it back into title contention? Has Cashman done enough this offseason, or is he still a pitcher short? Let’s take a look at where things stand right now.
Yankees projected rotation after Marcus Stroman signing
Again, things can still change between now and Opening Day — signing Stroman likely takes Snell or Montgomery off the table, but don’t put it past Cashman to still pursue a Cease deal — but here’s how the Yankees’ starting staff currently lines up.
1. RHP Gerrit Cole
2. LHP Carlos Rodón
3. RHP Marcus Stroman
4. LHP Nestor Cortes
5. RHP Clarke Schmidt
6. RHP Luke Weaver
7. RHP Clayton Beeter
That feels much better, with Stroman’s presence bringing a bit more stability to the middle of the rotation while bumping iffier options like the recently re-signed Weaver and top prospect Beeter one rung down the ladder. Each member of New York’s top five has, at some point in the recent past, been a very good Major League starter, and that’s not something that a whole lot of teams can say.
Of course, that also elides a whole lot of stuff that’s happened in the interim. Cole remains a stalwart atop the rotation, but Rodón (6.85 ERA, 64.1 IP) and Cortes (4.97, 63.1) are each coming off ineffective, injury-plagued seasons. New York expects both of them to be ready to go for the start of spring training, but they thought that last year as well, and it’s tough to pencil either of them in for a positive 2024 season until we actually see them pitching like their old selves. If each of them return to form, the Yankees are very much in business; Cole, Stroman, Schmidt and the 2022 versions of Rodón and Cortes would form one of the very best starting staffs in the league, as well as five pitchers who get things done in a wide variety of ways.
But it’s also easy to imagine a world in which we see more of the same from Rodón and Cortes, while the age-related decline that’s begun to creep into Stroman’s game continues apace. Given everything that New York has riding on this 2024 season — they only have one guaranteed year with Juan Soto in the fold, and Cole and Aaron Judge aren’t getting any younger — that’s a scary proposition, so expect Cashman to add at least one more arm to this mix between now and March. Whether that’s someone like Cease or more of a flier (Hyun-Jin Ryu, maybe?) is the million-dollar question.