Nestor Cortes turns emotional, cites his American dream after $3.2M deal

Nestor Cortes during his first All-Star appearance in 2022

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Nestor Cortes contract helps solidifies 2023 Yankees rotation

The Yankees are able to convince at least a dozen players, who agreed to avoid arbitration and accept their offers. Left-handed starter Nestor Cortes is one of them and he has signed a $3.2 million deal for 2023.

Following his contract acceptance, Nestor Cortes turned emotional. He tweeted that “It’s a special day for my family and me. Specially my parents. Sacrificed so much for the ‘American dream.’ Always put me ahead of their needs. For EVERYONE keep grinding and stay hungry. This is the start! No matter what comes next.”

Last season, Nestor Cortes was a big surprise and he soon became the Yankees fan-favorite. He got his first spot on an All-Star team. He went over 100 innings for the first time, then 125, then 150, and ended the season with 158 1/3 innings that made him a star. He went 14-4 and had an ERA of 2.44, but Judge’s American League record of 62 home runs overshadowed him.

According to ESPN Stats and Info:

“Nestor Cortes is the 4th different Yankees starting pitcher in the postseason in the Wild Card Era (since 1995) to allow 1 or 0 runs in 5 innings pitched on three days rest. The others: Gerrit Cole, C.C. Sabathia, and Andy Pettitte.”

Nestor Cortes even got two votes for American League Cy Young, which put him in eighth place. He threw 158 and the third innings.

The year before, he had thrown 93 innings, which was his MLB career high.

Nestor Cortes surprised everyone by getting a starting job right out of spring training. He made his first All-Star team, went 1-0 in the playoffs, and made Team USA for the World Baseball Classic in March.

“I guess it’s no secret that this was an amazing season for me and I think for anybody who could have thrown what I did this year,” Cortes told to Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network in December. “I think anybody would have been happy with the success that I had.”

Nestor Cortes wrote an article about his experience in the baseball game in general and the Yankees in particular for the Players’ Tribune.

Nestor Cortes tried his best in every game and throws like it was his last opportunity to prove himself. According to him:

“First game of the season, last game, random game against a bad team, huge rivalry game — it doesn’t matter. It’s always there. Always. Because I treat every start like it could be my last one. For me, any time I take the mound, I’m thinking, This game, right now … this just might be your last opportunity ever to prove what you can do. So you better be ready to go.”

Nestor Cortes was also thankful to fans and teammates for their continued support despite too many adversities in his career. He wrote:

“Yankees fans know what I’m talking about. They remember me from before. They realize I had to scratch and claw (and work!) to make it back to the majors after getting traded away a few years ago. Even some of the guys in our locker room now, they were around when I was with the team back then. Those guys — Aaron, D.J., Gleyber, Stanton — they saw me struggle. All those guys saw this 25-year-old kid trying to prove to himself that he belonged. They saw what a challenge it was for me at times. And now … it’s just really special because they’re all so pumped for me.”

The starting pitcher earlier admitted that one time he thought his career was finished. He penned it:

“I’m pretty sure none of them saw this coming back then. And to be honest with you, part of me can’t even believe this is all happening. If you would’ve told me in 2018 or 2019, “Hey, you’re actually going to be an All-Star in 2022.

You’ll be one of the top starters in the league,” I would’ve said you were lying. Like, “Stop bulls***ting me, man.”

I remember getting DFA’d by the Orioles at one point a few years ago, and it was like, Nestor, your career is over. You’re done. You just got DFA’d by a last-place team. It’s over.”

He says that every time the Yankees play a series away from home, the players choose a room to hang out in after the games. Cortes says it’s just room service and smack talk, which doesn’t sound like much, but there’s more to it than that.

Since the Yankees signed free-agent pitcher Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes is now part of a rotation with Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas that is even stronger. Cortes wants the Yankees to be even more consistent.

“I think the biggest hurdle was to get to 100-plus innings,” Cortes said, “and I think this go-around is to get to 200 innings. That’s going to be my biggest goal, to pitch more innings than what I did last year. Obviously, try to be as healthy as I can for the full year, and I think everything else will come. Whether it’s the ERA (and) lowering it or striking out more people or allowing less baserunners on, I think that all comes in hand with being healthy. I think if I’m healthy, I’m able to do that again.”

Nestor Cortes in but Gleyber Torres disagrees

The Yankees and Gleyber Torres could have to go to an arbitration hearing because the Yankees couldn’t agree on a contract for him for the 2023 season.

Reports say that Torres asked for $10.2 million and New York answered with $9.7 million. Cortes made $727,500 in 2022. It was the first time in his five-year MLB career that he was an All-Star. He went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 158 1/3 IP over 28 starts.

Wandy Peralta 5.168 $3.35M agreement
Frankie Montas 5.015 $7.5M agreement
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 5.000 $6M agreement in November
Lou Trivino 4.163 $4.1M agreement in November
Gleyber Torres 4.162 No agreement reached
Clay Holmes 4.031 $3.3M agreement
Jonathan Loaisiga 4.022 $2.26M agreement
Domingo German 4.017 $2.6M agreement
Kyle Higashioka 4.005 $1.4625M agreement
Nestor Cortes 3.094 $3.2M agreement
Jose Trevino 3.063 $2.36M agreement
Michael King 3.004 $1.3M agreement

Friday was the last day for teams and players who can go to arbitration to agree on a salary for 2023 before exchanging salary numbers, which often leads to a hearing.

Since 2017, when they won an arbitration hearing with right-hander Dellin Betances, the Yankees haven’t had one. However, they were minutes away from having one with outfielder Aaron Judge this past season before they came to an agreement on a midpoint of $19 million.

The Yankees avoided arbitration in November by agreeing to deals with infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($6 million) and right-handed pitcher Lou Trivino ($4.1 million).

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