Finding an apt Plan B for Yankees if Yamamoto lands somewhere else

Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt is with teammate Nestor Cortes during a practice session at Yankee Stadium in 2022.

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The potential Yankees acquisition of Yoshinobu Yamamoto perfectly aligns with General Manager Brian Cashman’s overreaching goal to position the Yankees as the “Mecca of baseball.” However, the immense competition and a price tag of $300 million remind the Yankees of the need to look beyond the Japanese ace and keep Plan B ready in the event he opts away from the Bronx.

Having successfully secured Soto and Verdugo, the Yankees now set their sights on Yamamoto, who recently concluded an outstanding pitching season, earning himself another MVP award. In a meeting conducted last week, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman personally engaged with Yamamoto to explore the possibility of bringing him on board. However, the Yankees face stiff competition in their pursuit, with other formidable teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston all vying for the services of this exceptional ace.

The lingering question is who should the Yankees consider as an alternative plan if Yamamoto chooses to sign with another team.

Yankees reunion with Jordan Montgomery

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are familiar with SP Jordan Montgomery, who was part of their roster from 2017 to 2022. Following a commendable season, Montgomery achieved World Series victory with the Texas Rangers. His journey to Texas transpired through a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals before this year’s trade deadline. Montgomery proved to be a valuable addition for Texas during the postseason, contributing significantly in six appearances with a 3-1 record, an ERA of 2.90, and 17 strikeouts.

Inking a short-term extension with a pitcher like Montgomery should pose no detriment to the Yankees. The team is in dire need of pitching, particularly considering the starting rotation’s struggles due to injuries that impacted the entire staff. Even the team has been discussing Montgomery as an option.

However, in his previous stint with the team, he endured numerous significant upper-body injuries. In 2018, Montgomery faced an extended absence due to Tommy John surgery on his elbow, addressing a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Another point of concern revolves around the Yankees’ utilization of Montgomery. Essentially, there’s uncertainty about whether the Yankees will allow Montgomery to pitch in a manner similar to his performance with Texas or if they intend to revert to the approach employed back in 2022.

Blake Snell is another option


The Yankees also possess the opportunity to secure left-handed pitcher SP Blake Snell. Snell is entering the offseason on the heels of an outstanding year, claiming his second Cy Young award—the first being in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays. In the latest season, Snell distinguished himself by leading the National League with an impressive ERA of 2.25. Additionally, he secured the second-highest strikeout rate at 31.5 percent, trailing only behind SP Spencer Strider. His exceptional performance earned him the NL’s Pitcher of the Month accolades for both June and September.

It’s worth noting that Snell is well-acquainted with Yankee Stadium, having faced the Yankees multiple times during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he found success. This track record is a crucial factor for the Yankees to consider when evaluating the prospect of signing him. In essence, Snell seems to be a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium, backed by his valuable experience.

The third avenue


Exploring a third avenue, the Yankees might be contemplating delving into the trade market. Although the options in the trade market may be somewhat limited for the Yankees, there are a few decent pitchers who could potentially be available. One name that stands out as a potential trade target is SP Shane Bieber.

The current trajectory of the Cleveland Guardians suggests that they are not in contention for 2024, particularly following the appointment of Stephen Vogt as the team’s new manager, signaling a potential shift toward a rebuilding phase. In the event that other plans fall through, the Yankees could consider pursuing a trade for Bieber, and the advantage lies in the likelihood that the Guardians may not demand a significant return. While Bieber remains a solid pitcher, it’s acknowledged that he is not currently at the peak level that earned him a Cy Young award.

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