While the Yankees generated some excitement by bringing in Carlos Rodon, giving them the best projected rotation in the American League, there are likely a few people on the inside who are less than thrilled.
Winning has a way of making things right, but for a guy who’s been patiently waiting for his turn every fifth day, Rodon’s signing leaves him out in the cold. Clark Schmidt, the 26-year-old who was long considered one of the team’s best players but rarely got a chance to prove himself, is now in limbo.
With Rodon in the Bronx and Frankie Montas heading into his first full season there as well, both Schmidt and Domingo German are without a rotation spot. German is a much more logical candidate to move to the bullpen, both because he already has big league experience in that role and because his fastball-heavy arsenal can play in a bullpen where most pitchers only have two or they throw three pitches.
Schmidt, on the other hand, fares much better as a traditional appetizer. Schmidt pitched 26 games for the Yankees last season, but the final two games ended in disaster. He found himself in a rather unfair situation in Game 3 of the ALDS in Cleveland, eventually giving up the tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the 9th while reliever Clay Holmes was nowhere to be found. He was at least given a clean inning in Game 1 of the ALCS, but he immediately messed up, giving up two home runs to the first three batters he faced.
[ New Yankee Carlos Rodon says winning was driving force in free agency ]
It broke a tie in the sixth inning, got the ball rolling on the Astros’ commanding sweep and effectively ended Schmidt’s season. He didn’t pitch again the rest of the postseason as a starter or reliever.
However, at this point in his baseball journey, Schmidt has earned the right to be on an MLB roster. Looking at the current Yankees bullpen, Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahn all hold their own as long as they’re healthy, and Ron Marinaccio fits in perfectly well to be included as well, though he. two minor league options left. That already makes the head count six, most teams prefer to carry eight relievers at any given time.
That leaves German, Schmidt and Albert Abreu as the most logical infield options to compete for the bottom two spots, but the club could also hear from a few relievers in spring training who would like to wrestle that spot away. Let’s also not forget that Michael King will be back at some point in the season as well.
[ Last time the Yankees tried to buy a World Series, it worked. Why are they so scared of trying again? ]
It certainly looks like Schmidt, who has one more minor league option, will start the year as the starting pitcher for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Schmidt already has 42 minor league starts, but just five in the big leagues. At some point, the Yankees have to look at what they got, and if they don’t want to look at him, they should trade him and let someone else do it.
This is something we’ve seen recently from a position player. Estevan Florial, who just turned 25, has also been stuck on the shuttle the past two seasons. Florial only made 63 plate appearances on The Show, a number that average people can achieve in about two weeks. Miguel Andujar also found himself on the outside looking at consistent playing time, and while injuries have been part of the equation for him, he’s also gotten far more reps in Triple-A over the last two seasons than he did in the regular season. big leagues
That doesn’t really benefit anyone, and when the Yankees finally designated him for assignment in late September, the Pittsburgh Pirates swooped in and immediately put Andujar in the starting lineup for their final seven games. Granted, the Yankees were in the playoff race while the Pirates were playing down the stretch, but the Yankees also had plenty of opportunities to see what Andujar could do, just like they had with Florial and Schmidt.
[ With the Carlos Rodon deal the Yankees have gotten better for the first time this offseason ]
If the team is really opposed to the idea of giving a lot of playing time to guys like this who they may view as Quad-A type, then it’s not entirely fair to have them rest in Scranton and wait for someone to make an MLB roster. get hurt Professional baseball is, of course, a business, and business usually doesn’t care what’s fair. But it makes much more business sense to trade those players to another organization and try to bring back some real big leaguers. A package of Schmidt, Florial and Andujar would be more than enough to get someone the Yankees would at least feel comfortable putting in real games.
Entering the 2023 season, Schmidt has pitched just 20 MLB innings as a starting pitcher. The Yankees have now put themselves in a position where there is no room for him in the big league rotation, and other teams haven’t seen Schmidt as an MLB starter enough to know what they’re getting. That’s not necessarily a bad problem for the Bombers, as minor league depth is important, but so is adding talent to a lineup trying to win a World Series.
Schmidt is one of several intriguing candidates in a Brian Reynolds trade with Pittsburgh, where he could join fellow pitcher Andujar and spin about how the Yankees never gave them a fair shake. If the Yankees keep him, don’t expect to see Schmidt until the first pitcher of the year hits the injured list, and even then, there’s no guarantee he’ll be used outside of garbage time.
As has been the case for years, it’s unclear exactly how that benefits the Yankees or Schmidt, who was once considered a foundational piece of the prospect wave that will carry the team through the 2020s.
Now, he’s just another guy stuck in no man’s land. The least the Yankees can do is give him a permanent home, either with them or another team that will take good care of him.