Which Non-Tendered Free Agents, if any, Might the Yankees Target

Max Goodman

New York tendered contracts to all 40 players on the team's 40-man roster on Monday, but could they seek a deal with a player who was non-tendered by another big league club?

While players like Mike Moustakas, Cole Hamels and Zack Wheeler are no longer available, as several free agents signed agreements with new teams this week, the free-agent pool got bigger.

A total of 56 players were non-tendered and released ahead of Monday night's deadline, including many talented ballplayers that will have no trouble finding a new home this offseason.

As more players became available, this week has also been a solid indicator of the Yankees plan in free agency. New York is targeting elite, high-end starting pitching this winter, with Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg at the top of their wish list.

In fact, to prove their intentions, a Yankees contingent flew cross-country to sit down with the most sought after free-agent hurlers ahead of next week's Winter Meetings -- general manager Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, new pitching coach Matt Blake and former Yankee Andy Pettitte represented the franchise.

That being said, will the Yankees be among the teams reaching out to non-tendered free agents? 

The answer -- in all likelihood -- is no. New York has their hands full financially and logistically negotiating with Cole and Strasburg -- they are the priority, so they get all the Yanks attention moving forward.

Not to mention the fact that Brett Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankee, is still a free agent along with Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius.

Last week we pointed out some of the 'Black Friday Deals' the Yanks could make this offseason, but here's some new names -- from the non-tendered crop of free agents -- that the Yankees could potentially consider ... 

Blake Treinen, RP

In 2018, Blake Treinen was practically untouchable. 

The right-hander, in his first full season with the Oakland Athletics, led relievers with an astounding .78 ERA -- he allowed only seven runs in 80.1 innings. The closer set career highs, by a huge margin, in saves (38) and strikeouts (100), earning his first All-Star game appearance. 

One year later, however, it was a different story. Treinen struggled mightily -- his ERA was six-times higher in 2019 (4.91) and his 13.9 walk percentage was in the bottom-four percent of the league. 

According to Statcast, his 'whiff percentage' decreased by almost 10 percent from 2018 to 2019 (35.9-to-26.7), so he wasn't missing as many bats.

So, Oakland let him go this week. Don't let his numbers from this past season fool you, however. He'll still be a hot commodity now that he's available. 

Treinen is certainly a risk -- especially with cheaper relievers available on the market -- but his upside is ridiculously high. Could be an intriguing project and success story for Matt Blake in his first season as a big-league pitching coach.

Kevin Gausman, SP

Let's say, hypothetically, that Gerrit Cole signs elsewhere. Perhaps Stephen Strasburg also doesn't pick pinstripes and all other remaining high-end starters -- like Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu -- are swooped up in free agency as well. Where could the Yankees go from here to add depth in their starting rotation?

Kevin Gausman is a familiar face to Yankee fans after the right-hander spent five seasons in Baltimore before being traded to the Braves last year. 

After a solid second half in 2018 with Atlanta, he hasn't been his best. In 2019 alone, with the Braves and Cincinnati Reds, Gausman went 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA. He's still got some quality starts in him though and his experience during his tenure as an Oriole would pay huge dividends with the Bombers.

A former AL East foe, Gausman has already toed the rubber in 12 games at Yankee Stadium in his career -- in the Bronx, he's posted a respectable 4.02 ERA alongside a 7.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

His familiarity with the division would make him an appealing asset when it comes to eating up innings during the dog days of the season. 95 of his 154 career starts have come in AL East ballparks, so the transition back to the division would be seamless.

John Ryan Murphy

Speaking of familiar faces...

Similar to the notion of the Yankees bringing back Melky Cabrera this offseason, Murphy started his career in pinstripes and has since bounced around the big leagues. Since three years in New York -- from 2013 to 2015 -- the backstop has spent time with the Twins, Diamondbacks and Braves.

It's clear Gary Sanchez is the catcher of the present (and the future) for the Bombers, and with free agent Austin Romine likely to sign elsewhere, Kyle Higashioka appears destined for the backup role. 

If New York seeks out an additional catcher this winter, to be the team's third-string, Murphy's experience with the organization could inspire the club to look his way.

The 28-year-old has struggled at the plate in his career, with a .183 batting average in 144 games since being traded to Minnesota (in exchange for Aaron Hicks), but his defense behind the dish is his strong suit.

Looking at 2018, when Murphy played a career-high 87 games in Arizona, the backstop's pop time on throws to second base (1.94 seconds) was above the league average of 2.01. His arm strength -- an average of 83.7 mph -- was 19th best in the bigs, higher than Yadier Molina, Salvador Perez and the aforementioned Higashioka.

Similar to Gausman, Murphy has a significant sample size playing in the AL East. In a very small role, for an affordable deal, New York could pick up the backstop that caught the final pitch of Mariano Rivera's career.

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