When the Yankees signed Gio Gonzalez, more questions than answers arose, especially about their young homegrown starters. Cashman seems confused too…
Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, can always be counted on to leave no stone unturned when it comes to seeking and signing players who can provide the roster depth necessary to counteract injuries over six months of a baseball season.
In the case of Gio Gonzalez though, here was a pitcher hiding in plain sight and, by no means under a stone. Cast off by the Washington Nationals last season, Gonzalez sat waiting for the phone to ring as a free agent coming into the 2019 season. No one called.
Meanwhile, as expected, CC Sabathia was declared not ready to begin the season, even after he serves the five-game suspension levied on him last year. Unexpectedly though, Luis Severino went down early in Spring Training, joining Sabathia in the IL (no longer the DL) to begin the season, with no timetable for either starter to join the rotation.
Enter Gio Gonzalez, Brian Cashman’s no-risk insurance policy against those injuries. Mysteriously, Gonzalez accepts a minor league deal to sign with the Yankees, but with the provision, he must be put on the 25-man roster by April 20, or the deal is voided and Gonzalez resumes his lonesome venture as a free agent.
However, yesterday when speaking with the New York Post, it seemed to dawn on Cashman that he had a PR problem at least, and possibly even a clubhouse dissension issue to deal with, all stemming from the Gonzalez signing.
Cashman, though not always a believer in the “next-in-line” approach to filling vacancies from within, had previously heaped praise on three young and promising homegrown Yankees, each of whom was declared ready to contribute to the team.
Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Domingo German all were penciled in to fill the void, at least until Severino and Sabathia were geared up to rejoin the starting staff. End result? Cashman tells the Post:
No question, Gonzalez, who is 127-97 with a 3.69 in 313 games (303 starts), has more experience than the three right-handers. But at 33, he has no future with the team. Plus, at some point, the Yankees need to see just what they have in Cessa, Loaisiga, and German.
Of the three, Loaisiga appears to have the most upside. Of four starts in 2018, he won two and had 33 strikeouts in just 25 innings pitched. On Thursday, German gave up five runs and six hits (three homers) in 3 ²/₃ innings and may have pitched his way out of the rotation.
Meanwhile, in five games (three starts) Cessa has posted a 0.53 ERA, allowed nine hits in 17 innings, struck out 18 and walked one in Spring Training games, making him an uncomplicated choice to join the staff, along with Loaisiga for the first month of the season, and possibly longer.
Of the Yankees remaining starters, Masahiro Tanaka is always one pitch away from disaster with a shoulder injury tracing back to 2017. Newly acquired James Paxton has a long history of injuries, and J.A. Happ is on the back end of a career and susceptible to aging ailments at any time.
The kettle isn’t quite that black, of course. But still, Spring Training pitching injuries continue to capture the attention of general managers across both leagues.
Which leads to this possibility. Brian Cashman can release Gio Gonzalez when his time comes and if he is not needed before then. He can assume the Yankees lineup can make up the runs scored differential, and use Loaisiga and Cessa to fill out the rotation.
Remember, Gonzalez attracted no attention before the Yankees bit to sign him. Thus, chances are he’ll still out there for Brian Cashman to re-sign, this time to a major league contract if Loaisiga and Cessa do not provide quality starts, defined as five innings before the game is turned over to the Yankees stalwart bullpen.
That’s a plan – no?