Underwood, 29, had a challenging year in 2023. He tossed 24 1/3 innings for the Pirates with a 5.18 earned run average. His 44% ground ball rate was solid but he struck out just 14% of batters faced while giving out walks at an 11% clip. He also threw 20 innings in Triple-A with a 6.30 ERA. He was outrighted by the Pirates during the season and elected free agency in October.
Despite that rough season, the Yanks are likely intrigued based on the previous two campaigns. Over 2021 and 2022, Underwood threw 130 innings with a 4.36 ERA, 21.1% strikeout rate, 9% walk rate and 45.7% ground ball rate. He might have been unlucky in that time, with his .324 batting average on balls in play and 66.5% strand rate each falling on the unfortunate side of average. That’s why his 3.68 FIP in that stretch looks far nicer than his ERA.
Underwood will provide the Yanks with a bit of non-roster depth for the bullpen. If he is able to crack the roster at any point, he is out of options, meaning he couldn’t be sent back down to the minors without first being exposed to waivers. His service time clock is currently between three and four years, meaning he could be retained for future seasons via arbitration if things go especially well in 2024.