TAMPA, Fla. — Hoping to bolster the depth of their rotation, the Yankees have agreed to a minor league deal with Gio Gonzalez, a veteran left-handed pitcher who, like many other players this off-season, languished in a slow free agent market.
The Yankees’ starting staff will begin the season without two of their starters: C.C. Sabathia, who is a few weeks behind his fellow starting pitchers because of off-season operations on his heart and his right knee, and Luis Severino, who is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in spring training. Sabathia is expected to return sometime in April; Severino will be out until May.
The Yankees have expressed confidence in their alternatives — Luis Cessa, Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga — even though those pitchers are largely unproven in the major leagues. While Gonzalez, 33, has declined recently, he has been an All-Star twice and is known for his durability.
Because he has missed most of spring training, it is unclear how quickly Gonzalez can be ready to pitch. The Yankees open the season on March 28, and have a month to determine whether they are confident in Gonzalez’s conditioning. His deal includes an April 20 opt-out, which would allow him to leave if the Yankees have not added him to the major league roster by then.
Gonzalez would earn $3 million if he is in the major leagues and the deal also includes performance incentives.
Gonzalez is from Miami, and he has been working out a training facility there run by his agent, Scott Boras. In a recent workout, Gonzalez faced hitters and threw 88 pitches.
Gonzalez’s performance has slipped gradually over the years. He went 10-11 with a 4.21 earned run average over 171 innings last season, when he was with the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers. He was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012.
Although his strikeout and walk rates have trended in opposite directions in recent seasons, Gonzalez has not been on the injured list since 2014, and he has averaged 187 innings a season over the past nine years.
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