Nestor Cortes’ Offseason Efforts Bring Encouragement to the YankeesDecember 6, 2023
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A season after earning down-ballot Cy Young votes, Nestor Cortes struggled in 2023. The crafty southpaw recorded a 4.97 ERA, and he only made 12 starts following a spring training hamstring injury and two in-season rotator cuff strains. The Yankees entered the season counting on Cortes after he registered a 2.44 ERA in 2022. Instead, he succumbed to poor health and performance, like much of the rotation. This offseason has been kinder to Cortes, who recently got married and went on his honeymoon. He’s also been throwing without issue. Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake says that Cortes finished a throwing program in October. During that process, Cortes built his shoulder back up and got his velocity into the high-80s in bullpen sessions. Cortes then shut down for a bit, but he began ramping up again on Monday. Boone said Tuesday, “We wanted to get him back on the mound. So he got built up to where he got on the mound. That went well. Then he went into shutdown, no-throw, and he just started his throwing program to build up for spring training yesterday. So he’s doing well.” Blake said there’s currently no reason to believe Cortes won’t enter camp ready to go, just that he’s going healthy into spring training,” Blake said. Cortes is currently part of a projected rotation that also features Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Michael King and Clarke Schmidt. However, King and Schmidt have been frequently mentioned in trade rumors, especially those involving Padres superstar Juan Soto. The Yankees’ starting depth includes unseasoned youngsters Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, Yoendrys Gómez and Luis Gil. There’s also prospects Will Warren, Clayton Beeter, Drew Thorpe, Chase Hampton and Richard Fitts. Luis Severino unsurprisingly left the Yankees in free agency, signing with the Mets, while Frankie Montas remains on the open market. Brian Cashman said Tuesday that the Yankees have discussed a potential reunion with Montas’ agent, Scott Boras. Gil, who impressed over a small sample in 2021, pitched in just two minor league games in 2023, as he spent most of the year recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, Blake said that he has been throwing back home in the Dominican Republic, and the righty could impact the Yankees in some way next season. Reliever Scott Effross, another Tommy John recipient, is still rehabbing and “working through that process,” Blake said. Meanwhile, Tommy Kahnle is still getting his shoulder strength back. Jonathan Loáisiga was recently cleared to start throwing and is building up after elbow inflammation ended his season a few weeks early. Blake was not aware of any other pitching injuries popping up since the season ended. Getting back to the rotation, the Yankees covet Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who has steep competition for his services. Japanese pitchers besides Yamamoto are also being looked at by the Yankees. Cashman has had conversations with many of the players from Japan.