The New York Yankees are predictably busy in the early stages of the free agent market. However, aside from some rumbling linking Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius to fresh contracts, their activity has been centered around coaching.

More specifically, the freshly vacant position of pitching coach. In October, long-serving Larry Rothschild was fired from the position after nine seasons. GM Brian Cashman said the move came about because the organization wanted to move towards a more analytics-based approach that Rothschild was unfamiliar with.

Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After a search which included interviews for YES analyst and former Yankee David Cone, Arkansas’ Chris Fetter and Michigan’s Matt Hobbs, the Bombers have finally hired their preferred candidate, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

That man is Matt Blake, previously of the Cleveland Indians. In fact, the Tribe only just named Blake pitching coordinator this week just before the Yankees made their move.

Blake is known to embrace analytics, something which would have surely impressed the Yankees hierarchy. Plus, coming from the Indians, he has a background in an organization which prefers to develop their major league pitchers instead of dipping into free agency or the trade market.

While the Bombers bullpen was one of the best in the majors last season, their rotation left much to be desired. They finished with 53 quality starts, 18th in the bigs, nine shutouts, 12th most, and a team ERA of 4.31, 14th in the major leagues.

This move makes sense for two reasons. First, it fulfills an organizational want to move towards analytics and away from Rothschild’s old-school methods. Second, it comes in an offseason where there are two blue chip free agent starting pitchers.

Both Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole are targets for the Yankees and with their vast resources it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see one of them arrive in the Bronx. Both will likely prefer to work with a pitching coach who is at the top of their game and on the cutting edge of the latest analytical information.

The Yankees have taken the perfect first step to not only sign one of these two stars, but to also take a leap next season and challenge for the World Series after losing in the ALCS.

Meanwhile, Larry Rothschild has already found a new job despite only just leaving the Yankees. As per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, the San Diego Padres have elected to hire Rothschild as their major league pitching coach and reassign the long-serving Darren Balsley to a special assistant working with minor league pitchers.

Rothschild, despite getting the sack in New York, is still a highly regarded coach with loads of experience. He has coached in 45 playoff games and has two World Series rings to his name; one from the 1990 Reds when he served as bullpen coach and one from the 1997 Marlins when he aided Jimmy Leyland as pitching coach.