UPDATE (March 19, 11:30 a.m. Eastern): González has reported to Yankees camp in Tampa, ostensibly to take the physical exam needed to finalize his minor-league deal.
González can really rake it in with his contract incentives, as Heyman reports this morning that he is due $300K for each start he takes. Heyman goes on to say the contract maxes out at $12 million, which would imply the starts incentive is capped at 30 starts.
The problem there isn’t the money. If the Yankees need to get 30 starts from Gio González in 2019, something has gone horribly wrong.
UPDATE (March 18, 8:30 p.m. Eastern): The Yankees are in agreement with Gio González on a minor-league deal with invitation to MLB Spring Training, according to Heyman.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports González will make $3 million if promoted to the active roster, and has multiple incentives for games started. He also can request his release if he is not on the active roster by April 20.
González serves as rotation insurance should the Yankees not be satisfied with the work done by Domingo Germán or Luis Cessa. Jonathan Loáisiga had trouble finishing off hitters and Chance Adams continued to look less and less like the prized prospect of a few years ago.
With this deal, González will either force his way into the conversation for the Yankees Opening Day rotation or will have the opportunity to showcase his abilities for clubs should he exercise his opt-out.
With the Yankees down two starting pitchers, they appear to be exploring the free-agent market in an attempt to shore up their depth. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports the team “made an offer” to veteran lefty Gio González.
Luis Severino and CC Sabathia are set to begin their seasons on the injured list, and the team is currently planning to replace them in the rotation temporarily with players from within. Domingo Germán and Luis Cessa are the frontrunners for those spots, with Jonathan Loáisiga a distant challenger who seems headed to Triple-A.
It’s unclear what kind of deal González would command, as he remains unsigned this far into Spring Training. Heyman mentioned there’s currently “not a great deal of optimism” that the two sides will end up with an agreement.
There appears to be ample reason for the Yankees to both sign and not sign González. On the one hand, he’s had much more success on the big-league level than Cessa, Germán and Loáisiga. But, some talent evaluators seem to think the Yankees could get similar or better performance at a cheaper cost should they choose their in-house options over González.
Declining velocity and middle-of-the-pack spin rate on his fastball led González to his second-worst ERA season with at least 27 outings. His walk rate was above 10% for the first time in eight seasons and his strikeout rate dipped under 20% for the first time ever. His curveball, once his best pitch, returned just a 9% whiff rate. His 1.44 WHIP was his worst since 2009.
It’s unclear if González would accept a bullpen role if he were to join the Yankees and all starters remain healthy. For his part, González reportedly threw a 107-pitch simulated game in Miami last week. It appears more likely that the Yankees will piece things together with the arms currently in camp rather than hope that González will be ready for big-league innings on a World Series contender.