The Yankees have claimed right-hander Luke Weaver off waivers from the Mariners, per announcements from both clubs. Weaver had recently been designated for assignment by the M’s. Lefty Nestor Cortes was transferred to the 60-day injured list in order to open up a spot on the Yankees’ 40-man roster.
Weaver, 30, began the year with the Reds, signing with them in the offseason on a one-year contract worth $2MM. Although he had shown some encouraging signs working as a reliever in 2022, the Reds tried moving him back to a starting role this year, which didn’t work out. He tooks the ball 21 times for the Reds but posted a 6.87 earned run average in 97 innings, getting released in August.
The Mariners decided to take a shot on Weaver, signing him to their roster. That was a no-risk move from a financial perspective, since the Reds remained on the hook for what remained of his salary. He made five appearances for Seattle, four of them out of the bullpen. But he posted an ERA of 6.08 in that small sample and was designated for assignment on the weekend.
Despite his poor results this year, it’s understandable why the Yankees would grab him. The Reds are still on the hook for the bulk of what remains of his contract, meaning that the Yanks will only have to pay the prorated version of the $720K league minimum for any time spent on the roster. That amount will be subtracted from what the Reds pay.
The Yankees have been battling poor health on their pitching staff all year, a problem that has gotten worse of late. Each of Ian Hamilton, Keynan Middleton, Jonathan Loáisiga, Albert Abreu and Luis Severino have landed on the injured list in just the past two weeks, further thinning out a staff that was already fairly snakebit. The club now has a total of 11 pitchers on the injured list.
At this time of year, adding new players is a challenge since the trade deadline has already passed. But by claiming Weaver off waivers, the Yankees get a fresh arm for their banged-up pitching staff at essentially no cost.
Weaver’s career has been up and down but he has shown flashes of potential at times. He posted an ERA of 2.94 in 2019, though injuries limited him to just 12 starts that year and he’s been less effective in subsequent years. Working primarily as a reliever last year didn’t look great on the surface level, with a 6.56 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, though poor luck may have been involved. His batting average on balls in play was .429 while his strand rate was 58.6%, leading to a 2.69 FIP and 3.64 SIERA.
Weaver will be a free agent again at season’s end, but donning the pinstripes will possibly give him a chance to finish the season strong, while the Yankees can use him to help patch together their pitching staff and limp to the end of a lost year.
As for Cortes, he’s been dealing with a rotator cuff strain and manager Aaron Boone admitted last month that he likely wouldn’t be back this year. This move makes it official, as he now won’t be eligible to return until 60 days from his August 8 IL placement, which would push into October. He’ll finish the year with a 4.97 ERA, only able to make 12 starts due to multiple injuries.