The New York Yankees have tons of holes on their roster and will also be needing to spend wisely this winter to avoid going over the luxury tax threshold of $189 million. To do this, GM Brian Cashman must be cost conscious but must also bring in talent good enough to win. That means he will have to delve into the bargain bin at times. There is one name that might have just been added to that bin that could make a ton of sense for the Yankees and that is Jeff Niemann.
Niemann, 31 years-old in February, is coming off of his second shoulder surgery and last threw a baseball in the Major Leagues in 2012. However, he did pitch to a 3.08 ERA in the eight games he appeared in in 2012. He also struck out 34 but walked 12 in 38 innings but still only had a 1.105 WHIP. For his career the former fourth overall pick form the 2004 draft owns a career 4.08 ERA across 97 games (92 starts) and a 1.286 WHIP.
Niemann’s problem has always been his health. Two shoulder surgeries since 2005 made him expendable to the Tampa Bay Rays who outrighted him off the 40-man roster and Niemann elected free agency instead. He was scheduled to hit arbitration and the Rays have never been known to spend their money on these types of projects and they have a wealth of pitching in their farm system.
The Yankees, however, could use a pitcher with a career 43.9 percent groundball rate. More importantly, Niemann won’t cost more than a minor league deal right now as his rotator cuff and labrum recover from surgery. The only issue might be that the Yankees won’t be alone in their pursuit of Niemann if they decide to go after him.
If Neimann is healthy he could be a cheap option, at least for this season, for a rotation spot or insurance should one or two starters get hurt. If he is healthy, and this is a big if, he could be a nice insurance policy and insurance policies are something the Yankees need. Right now, Niemann isn’t worth more than a minor league deal but he is worth checking in on.