Yankees To Sign Tommy Kahnle

10:41am: There’s no option on the contract, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, adding that Kahnle will be paid $5.75MM in each of the next two seasons.

10:32am: The Yankees have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent reliever Tommy Kahnle, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). Kahnle, a client of the Ballengee Group, will be guaranteed a total of $11.5MM on the deal, tweets Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

Kahnle, 33, returns to the same Yankees team that drafted him in 2010, lost him to the Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, and eventually acquired him alongside David Robertson in a 2017 trade with the White Sox. Injuries, most notably 2020 Tommy John surgery, put an end to Kahnle’s time in the Bronx. He was waived at the end of the 2020 season, as he was arbitration-eligible that winter but expected to miss the entire 2021 season while rehabbing from that ligament replacement procedure.

The Dodgers subsequently inked Kahnle to a low-cost, two-year contract with an eye toward paying him to rehab in 2021 and enjoying a hopeful rebound campaign at a slightly higher rate in 2022. It didn’t work out quite as well as hoped, given that Kahnle was only able to return to the mound for 13 2/3 regular-season innings in 2022 — plus a pair of postseason frames in which he served up three runs.

Kahnle’s regular-season showing was plenty promising, however. He pitched to a sharp 2.84 ERA and fanned a gaudy 30.4% of his opponents against a strong 6.5% walk rate. Kahnle’s 95.6 mph average fastball was nowhere near its 98 mph peak, but the right-hander compensated by absolutely overloading on changeups; Kahnle threw his four-seamer at just a 23% clip against a mammoth 76.4% usage rate for his changeup.

The new-look pitch selection paid dividends in that small sample, resulting in a career-high 68% ground-ball rate and a massive 17.2% swinging-strike rate. Kahnle doesn’t boast the power sinker that the Yankees regularly tend to prefer — particularly among their relievers — but that enormous ground-ball rate certainly aligns with the Yankees’ recent penchant for loading up on relievers with considerable ground-ball rates.

More to come.

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