Amidst the chaos of making Aaron Judge’s nine-year, $360M contract official and naming him as the captain of the New York Yankees on Wednesday, the club also announced a flurry of roster moves.
Of note, they officially announced Carlos Rodón’s signing. They also designated Lucas Luetge for assignment to open a spot on the roster for Tommy Kahnle, whom they re-signed to a two-year contract earlier this month.
Should Red Sox target Yankees DFA Lucas Luetge?
Kahnle was one of several players linked to the Red Sox during the Winter Meetings, most of whom signed elsewhere. The Yankees were a natural fit, as he pitched for them from 2017-20.
Somewhat surprising is that Luetge was the corresponding move. He pitched well for the Yankees over the last two seasons, posting a 2.71 ERA across 107 games. He’d been an above-average strikeout pitcher and limited home runs during his time with the Yankees, and even though his walk rate increased by nearly 2% this season, it was still well below league average.
Luetge excelled at inducing weak contact this year. He was in the 100th percentile in HardHit%, 99th percentile in Fastball Spin, 97th in Average Exit Velocity, and above average in most pitching percentile rankings, including K%, Barrel %, Whiff%, and Chase Rate.
However, what Luetge’s overall numbers won’t tell you is that the Yankees couldn’t trust him in high-leverage situations; batters hit .465/.478/.744 against him in 17 such appearances. 40 of his 50 appearances came in non-save situations. He struggled to get the third out of an inning; opposing batters hit .301/.402/.386. When pitching with runners in scoring position, hitters slashed .339/.406/.492 against him. He offers below-average slider and curveball speed, and his fastball velocity ranked in the third percentile in 2022.
Now that they’ve designated him for assignment, the Yankees have seven days to add him back to the roster or trade him. Should the Red Sox consider making a rare exchange with their biggest Rival? They’ve already signed Joely Rodriguez, Chris Martin, and Kenley Jansen, and acquired Wyatt Mills in a trade with the Kansas City Royals. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said he hoped to add three bullpen arms; Luetge would be the fifth.
Luetge will turn 36 in March, but he’s only in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He offers one additional year of club control than Ryan Brasier but is five months older. He brings a lot to the table that Brasier struggles with; the longtime Sox reliever was in the fifth percentile in avg. exit velocity, third percentile in HardHit%, 16th in xSLG, 27th in Barrel %, and 35th in xBA.