Yankees offer to Snell falls short, Cease trade falters over prospect

Blake Snell reportedly rejected an offer by the Yankees in January 2024.

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Despite extending a substantial offer to Blake Snell, the New York Yankees were snubbed by the 2023 NL Cy Young winner. As per MLB reporter Mike Rodriguez, the Yankees presented Snell with a five-year, $150 million contract, surpassing both market projections and comparable deals. However, the pitcher reportedly desired a more extended commitment, leading the Yankees to change course.

Similarly, the Yankees’ refusal to part with Spencer Jones has blocked the possible trade for Dylan Cease. Instead, they pursued Stroman and successfully signed him for $37 million over two years, with the potential for an extension to $55 million over three years based on innings pitched in 2025. This shorter contract aligns with the concerns raised about Snell’s long-term reliability.

Snell is tempting but costly for Yankees

While Snell boasts two Cy Young awards and an impressive strikeout rate, questions have arisen about his performance between those victorious seasons. Between 2019 and 2022, his win-loss record (25-26) and ERA (3.85) fell short of his Cy Young years. Although he secured another Cy Young Award in 2023, his overall fWAR remained consistent with previous years, underscoring a notable walk rate alongside his elite strikeout numbers.

While the prospect of pairing Snell with fellow Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole would undoubtedly appeal to the Yankees, the price tag and associated risk of a long-term deal proved to be too significant. By securing Stroman, the Yankees have obtained a proven talent on a more manageable contract, allowing them to maintain flexibility for future roster needs.

Moreover, Snell’s career innings total ranks 29th among active pitchers, prompting concerns about his ability to handle a heavy workload over an extended contract.

According to insider Mike Rodríguez, the Yankees offered lefty Blake Snell a 5-year, $150 million contract in free agency. However, Snell did not accept those terms, seeking either a higher average annual salary or an additional year.

Negotiations stalled between Snell and the Yankees, leading New York to pivot to Marcus Stroman instead. Curiously, no other suitor has emerged for the 31-year-old Snell, despite his reigning NL Cy Young season in 2023 with San Diego. The southpaw is a polarizing pitcher, often criticized for insufficient innings, high walks, and injuries, making some teams hesitant to offer a big free agent deal.

Yet Snell’s talent is undeniable after a dominant 2023, posting 6.0 bWAR and an MLB-best 182 ERA+. He led the majors in ERA (2.25) and walks (99), while notching 234 strikeouts and the lowest hits per 9 innings among qualified pitchers at just 5.9. The wary free agent market for the accomplished but enigmatic Snell remains a puzzling situation to unfold.

Yankees favor prospect over Cease

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The sudden emergence of the New York Yankees as front-runners for free-agent pitcher Marcus Stroman could be attributed to their hesitancy to meet the Chicago White Sox’s substantial asking price for Dylan Cease.

White Sox GM Chris Getz is reportedly demanding “multiple high-end prospects” for Cease, a steep cost that dissuaded the Atlanta Braves, even with their willingness to include young phenom Vaughn Grissom in the deal. Instead, the Braves opted for an alternative acquisition strategy, prioritizing cost-effectiveness over parting with top prospects.

While the Yankees find Cease appealing, the potential prospect cost appears to be a major hurdle. Having already depleted their farm system for Juan Soto and facing additional losses in the Rule 5 draft, trading another top prospect like Spencer Jones seems unlikely. Jones, ranked as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, brings exciting potential with his powerful bat and athleticism.

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Getz’s firm stance on the asking price is supported by Cease’s two years remaining on his contract and an attractive salary for 2024 (estimated at $8 million). Despite a 4.58 ERA in 2023, Cease possesses undeniable talent, evident in his impressive strikeout rate (29.8% over the past three seasons) and a 2022 Cy Young runner-up campaign.

Reports from NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller suggest that the White Sox believe the Baltimore Orioles might present a more lucrative prospect package. Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Jon Morisi’s reports position the Yankees as the leading contenders for Stroman, who has a solid track record himself (3.95 ERA over the past two seasons).

In summary, the Yankees’ pursuit of Stroman appears to be linked to their reluctance to meet the significant prospect cost associated with acquiring Cease. While Cease offers substantial upside, Stroman represents a more immediate and cost-effective solution to their pitching needs, allowing the Yankees to preserve their valuable farm system for future acquisitions.

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