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Why the Yankees Might Not Get a Deal Done with Top Free Agent Pitcher

With Cody Bellinger off the board, Blake Snell continues to wait on the free agent front. Speculation surrounding the two-time Cy Young Award winner and New York Yankees continue onward. The Yankees offered Snell a five-year, $150 million deal before shifting their attention to Marcus Stroman and his two-year deal last month. Snell and the Yankees discussed a potential contract on Monday, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

Blake Snell, Yankees Continue to Talk

Snell would certainly help the Yankees rotation in 2024 and beyond. The two sides don’t currently appear to be making much progress towards getting a contract done. The left-hander won the National League Cy Young Award with the San Diego Padres last season after he posted a 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 234:99 K:BB over 180 innings. He has control issues and isn’t much of a workhorse. He also has spectacular velocity and is one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. However, his league-worst 13.3 percent walk rate in two seasons of over 130 innings might be why his asking price is hesitant for some teams.

Whatever is on the table doesn’t appear to be a take-or-leave-it type offer for Snell. Heyman wrote that Scott Boras suggested the possibility of a shorter-term deal with higher annual salaries and multiple opt-outs. It would pivot Snell from earning the amount he wants. A contract like Boras suggested might not fit with the Yankees’ plans.

What Will a Deal Cost the Yankees?

The Yankees are a third-time luxury taxpayer at the top of their penalization. If the club is going to spend money now, they will be taxed at 110%. The luxury tax is based on a contract’s average annual value. Increasing the contract’s average annual value will penalize the Yankees further. To sign Snell, New York would also forfeit their second and fifth-round highest draft selections, including $1 million from next year’s international bonus pool.

A long-term deal that stretches out an agreed-upon guarantee while lowering the average annual value makes more sense. The Yankees did so with DJ LeMahieu in free agency when he signed a six-year deal. There has been no discussion of that kind of arrangement. Going longer on a deal with Snell would give the Yankees more worries than less. They already have Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón and Giancarlo Stanton under contract through the 2027 season. Cole, Judge and Rodón are on the books through 2028, leaving the Yankees with $103 million in guaranteed money.

Fallback Option If Snell Doesn’t Sign

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Yankees could prefer a different pitcher. Nightengale explained that New York would prefer trading a top-of-the-rotation arm by trading for one of the most coveted players on the market.

“The New York Yankees would prefer to trade for Chicago White Sox Dylan Cease instead of signing free agent Blake Snell. But they are at a standstill with the White Sox,” Nightengale added. “They refuse to part with top outfield prospect Spencer Jones in any package for (Cease) while the White Sox are insisting on him.”

The update notes Cease will be the club’s top pitching target if negotiations with Snell don’t develop further.

Main Photo: © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports


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