Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees needed starting pitching depth, especially after learning last week they will be without injured ace Luis Severino until at least May.
And while we can file the signing of veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez into the "why not" category, we can also look at recent history and see it as unlikely that Gonzalez will be much help.
The Yankees were close on Monday night to a minor-league deal with the veteran lefty. According to a person with direct knowledge of the deal, Gonzalez will make $3 million if he reaches the majors.
The team is not quite sure when he will be ready to pitch in regular-season big-league games, but an April 20 opt out in his contract provides a rough guideline for when the sides will know it they fit.
Perhaps Gonzalez will be ready in a month -- he was surely working out and keeping himself in shape while anticipating signing with a team -- but that date will come quickly. There is a reason pitchers and catchers report to spring training roughly six weeks before Opening Day; pitchers need that much time to stretch out, get their arms in shape and their command sharp.
Last year, when it became apparent that free agency was changing and many veterans encountered sudden difficulty finding work, two brand name starters waited until late in spring to sign.
Lance Lynn agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins on March 10, and Alex Cobb signed with Baltimore on March 20. Lynn had an 8.37 ERA in April, and struggled often through the season. Cobb was 5-15 with an 4.90 ERA for the year.
Surely, factors other than late signings contributed to those awful seasons, but teams took note of the way Lynn and Cobb struggled, and attributed much of the issue to the lack of spring training.
Timing aside, the 33-year-old Gonzalez brings strong signs of decline. While he was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA after Washington traded him to Milwaukee, his peripherals bothered teams and made his free agency a non-starter.
A contemporary front office is not going to overlook a 4.94 xFIP in the second half, or fail to notice that his hard contact rate shot up to 39.2 percent in September, more than 10 percent above his career number.
Other teams who checked in on Gonzalez over the winter came away believing that his ask reflected who he was, not who he currently is. On Monday, the Yankees were able to finagle the price down far enough to push Gonzalez into the low-risk category.
Just don't be surprised if the "high reward" part of that equation fails to materialize.