The New York Yankees are in the market for more starting pitching, in addition to a premium shortstop solution and potential first baseman. However, with Corey Kluber hitting the open market, general manager Brian Cashman is scouring free agency for a potential solution, and his answer might be former Ace Justin Verlander.
Verlander is coming off two seasons rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery, but he is still considered a fantastic player with gas left in the tank. At 37-years-old, Verlander hosted a bullpen session down in Florida at Eric Cressey’s facilities, the Yankees’ Director of Players Health and Performance. He reportedly approached 97 mph with his fastball, showing essential improvement.
However, while Cashman has his sights set on the former Houston Astro and Detroit Tiger, there are other teams entering the fold that could derail his pursuit.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees have plenty of AL east competition for Justin Verlander, including the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 17, 2021
It is believed that Verlander wants to join a team that practices down in Florida for the most part, and the Yankees have facilities in Tampa. According to Rosenthal, Verlander intends to join an East Coast team preferably for that reason, so the Yankees stand out as a great option. Nonetheless, they will have competition with a Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, who are willing to spend this off-season and are looking to improve their starting pitching rotations.
If Cashman has the available funds to acquire a top shortstop like Corey Seager or Carlos Correa and bring in Verlander, he will overhaul two primary vulnerabilities on the roster.
It is essential to mention that Verlander’s last action came in 2019 when he recorded an impressive 2.58 ERA over 223 innings. He posted a 35.9% ground ball rate, 88.4% left on-base percentage, 12.11 strikeouts per nine, and 1.70 walks per nine, a stellar statistic. During his 2019 season, he was throwing his fastball 94.9 mph, slider 87.2, and mixing in a curveball, and change-up sporadically.
There’s a little doubt that Verlander would present a fantastic pairing with Gerrit Cole, who were teammates in Houston for quite some time. The Yankees seem to be leading the race for his signature, but it is vital to keep the other AL East teams in mind as we approach potential lockout on December 1.
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