Injuries to both Luis Severino and CC Sabathia have left the Yankees’ rotation too thin for comfort. Adding Gio Gonzalez will be a huge boost.
The Yankees hoped to enter their 2019 campaign with Luis Severino at the front and CC Sabathia at the back of their starting pitching rotation. Injuries to both men have forced GM Brian Cashman to make other plans. The addition of Gio Gonzalez to manager Aaron Boone’s options should help New York survive their early injuries.
Joel Sherman reports that Gonzalez’s initial deal with the team will be for a minor league contract. The arrangement is a bit more complicated than that though. Gonzalez has an out in the deal before April 20th if he hasn’t found a way to carve out a role with the Yankees he likes. Assuming he does make the big league roster, he’ll make $3 million on a one-year deal.
GM Brian Cashman had been adamant that the organization wasn’t going to sign a high-priced free agent in a reaction to the injuries to his two starters. This move to acquire Gonzalez is in perfect keeping with what Cashman was comfortable with all along.
There’s really no downside to the move from the Yankees perspective. If either Severino or Sabathia needs more time to get up to speed the team can comfortably slot Gonzales into their spot in the rotation. He certainly isn’t the ace Severino can be, but he’s arguably a more reliable fifth starter than Sabathia.
Gonzalez made 32 combined starts for the Nationals and Brewers last year. His overall ERA of 4.21 isn’t great, but it’s important to note how well he pitched down the stretch for Milwaukee. His ERA dripped to just 2.13 in his five starts for the Brewers as they pushed for a playoff spot.
The Yankees would be happy for a performance anywhere in that range from a guy who is taking a minor league contract to start. The worst case scenario for the Yankees is that they release him before he ever makes it to the big leagues. The best case is that Gonzalez finds a way to make a meaningful impact all season long as a savvy veteran.
It’s hard to imagine Cashman making a better move for the Yankees at the moment than signing Gonzalez to such a low-risk deal. He isn’t a big-name acquisition, but he could be really important to the team as they start their 2019 campaign.