MARCH 17: The Yankees have made an offer to Gonzalez, but there’s “not a great deal of optimism” they’ll reach an agreement, per Heyman.
MARCH 5: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez had at least been discussed “by some Yankees people” even before the team learned of Luis Severino’s rotator cuff inflammation earlier today, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Similarly, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Yankees do like Gonzalez and may inquire with agent Scott Boras about the lefty’s current asking price.
With Severino and CC Sabathia both unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, the Yankees’ rotation depth isn’t quite as strong as it once appeared. Of course, neither Severino nor Sabathia is expected to miss significant time, and the Yankees have quite a few other options on hand to fill in on a short-term basis; Domingo German, Luis Cessa, Chance Adams and Jonathan Loaisiga are all on the 40-man roster and all saw some experience at the MLB level last season.
Beyond that, the Yankees are already projected to enter the season with a luxury tax payroll that sits at just over $226MM, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. Because they’re already $20MM north of the $206MM threshold, the Yankees are not only subject to the initial 20 percent tax — they’ll also pay a 12 percent surcharge on any additional contracts. In order to sign Gonzalez (or any other Major League free agent), they’d effectively pay an additional $320K in taxes for every million dollars they spend.
As Feinsand points out, as well, there’s the more straightforward question of what to do with Gonzalez if (or when) the team’s rotation is fully healthy. Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Sabathia are expected to comprise the Yankees’ rotation, and none of that quintet would figure to be pushed out by Gonzalez. Speculatively, the Yankees could deploy a six-man rotation or gauge Gonzalez’s willingness to pitch out of the ’pen. Ultimately, though, a pitcher as established as the 33-year-old Gonzalez seems like a tough fit in the Bronx, given the seemingly short-term nature of the absences with which Severino and Sabathia are currently faced.
That said, the tentative interest in Gonzalez is still of some note. If the Yankees incur further injuries or if Severino’s shoulder troubles prove to be more severe than initial testing has thus far suggested, a match with Gonzalez would suddenly appear considerably more plausible.