Cortes, Rodón ready to turn the page on 2023 struggles

January 22nd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch's Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

and have been among the earliest-arriving players to the Yankees’ training complex in Tampa, Fla., as the hurlers look to move past their respective injury-marred campaigns in 2023.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the internal reports on Cortes and Rodón have been positive as they begin to throw under the watch of staff members, well ahead of the official Feb. 14 report date for Bombers pitchers and catchers.

Other notable Yankees recently spotted at the complex include Aaron Judge, Oswaldo Cabrera, Jasson Domínguez, DJ LeMahieu, Jonathan Loáisiga, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe and Austin Wells.

The work being put in by Cortes and Rodón is vital, considering the Yanks’ rotation now appears set with the addition of free-agent starter Marcus Stroman, adding to a group featuring American League Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, plus Clarke Schmidt.

“I think we have a good rotation if everything goes right, which is something you don’t want to lay back counting on,” Cashman said.

An AL All-Star in 2022, Cortes struggled to recover from a hamstring injury sustained while preparing for the World Baseball Classic, finishing his '23 campaign with a 5-2 record and 4.97 ERA in 12 starts.

“We know what Nestor is capable of when he’s healthy,” Cashman said. “He was an All-Star and a high-end performer for us before the injuries hit last year, so we’re looking forward to getting that guy back.”

In his first year with the Bombers after inking a six-year, $162 million contract, Rodón endured multiple injury issues that delayed his debut until July. Rodón concluded the season with a 3-8 record and 6.85 ERA in 14 starts.

“I know our guys are excited; the feedback I’m getting is really good, that his arm action is good,” Cashman said. “He looks like he’s worked his tail off. I’m very optimistic that Rodón can return to form and be the pitcher we know he’s capable of being.”

Speaking on the “Foul Territory” podcast, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he believed Rodón could not catch up after the spring injuries.

“The biggest thing that I’ve probably told him going into the offseason is, it didn’t go away,” Boone said. “The good thing for [Rodón] is that [he is] super talented. It’s just about being healthy for him. I really feel like Carlos is one of those guys that’s had an outstanding winter; he’s in great shape and throwing the ball well.

“… The biggest thing that I want him to focus on is going to the post, whether that means 170 or 180 or upward innings, whatever that is. Focus on going out there and doing what you need to do from a physical standpoint. I truly believe if that’s the case, the results will follow over time. His stuff is simply too good.”

While the Yankees have found the asking prices for free agents Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery too high, prompting their recent pivot to Stroman and the bullpen market, Cashman would not rule out the possibility of adding another starter before Opening Day.

“We will constantly look to tinker if possible, but we like what we have at the same time,” Cashman said. “I think we have a lot of bases covered with guys, but there’s 162 games that are right in front of us.”