CLEVELAND — Aaron Judge may not be the only free agent the Yankees need to worry about this offseason.
Pitching coach Matt Blake, who is largely credited for the Yankees’ excellent performance on the mound this season, is also set to hit the open market.
And after the eye-opening midseason departure of Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson to take the same job at LSU for a reported raise of about $400,000 to a deal worth around $750,000 per year, with bonuses, it appears successful pitching coaches are in higher demand than ever before.
“Anytime you see someone in a similar skill-set go and do something like that you say, ‘Interesting,’ ” Blake said Friday, before the Yankees’ game against the Guardians at Progressive Field was postponed by rain. “You see the market moving. When I came over to Cleveland and got promotions and raises because the industry kept wanting my skill-set. It’s the same thing here now.”
Blake said he’s not looking to move on.
“I love being here and I love the role I’m in,’’ Blake said. “I like the people I work with. I don’t have any ambition of going to another team or the college ranks.”
But that doesn’t mean he won’t keep his eyes open in the offseason — and he took particular note of Johnson’s move.
“He’s compensated fairly for what the industry currently thinks,’’ Blake said. “There’s a huge market for developing pitching and he’s gonna raise the tide for a lot of people. It’s hard to say that he’s not worth, call it $1 million, if you’re turning minor league free agents into good pitchers. It’s something you’ve seen trending in this direction and now it’s just a matter of who’s willing to play the arms race?”
The Yankees will have to decide.
The Yankees entered Friday an MLB-best 2.92 ERA and Blake has been credited with the turnarounds of Nestor Cortes and Clay Holmes, as well as the success of the pitching staff as a whole.
“I want them to do what’s right for what they think is right as a business,’’ Blake said. “I’ll take what they have to say and think on my end. Obviously, I like being here. It’s an interesting time to be a major league pitching coach.”
Especially on a team with the best record in the majors.
Blake is in his third year as Yankees pitching coach after coming over from Cleveland, where he was the minor league pitching director.
“I’m compensated well now,’’ Blake said. “What does that mean for the best team in baseball in New York City and the way we’ve performed? What do they think it’s worth? I love working for these guys and I think they like having me here, so what does that mean for both sides?”
The concerns he had when he took the job, living in New York and the grind of the major league season, have been answered, Blake said.
“Everything has been great, so how do we make this continue?’’ Blake said. “We’ll see what it looks like at the end.”
Manager Aaron Boone hopes it doesn’t.
“He’s been awesome,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s gotten better and better and grown on the job as well to where he’s got a presence to him now. … He’s an excellent pitching coach. He’ll be able to do this as long as he wants.”
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