By: Ross Sutton
The Yankees have had a great season so far in 2018, but they have a clear need for another starting pitcher in order to make them legitimate World Series contenders. When healthy, the Yankees would use the following starters in a playoff series: Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and C.C Sabathia. This is already a solid rotation, but after Severino, the rest of the rotation has a lot question marks, so I think the Yankees are going to go all in for a starting pitcher this season in order to bring a title back to New York. So which pitchers could they potentially target once the deadline comes along?
One of the popular names that has been tossed around in regards to what the Yankees could do at the deadline has been Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. I doubt the Yankees would have to give up much in return for Happ, as he is 35, is on the final year of his contract, and currently owns a 3.56 ERA, which is good but not great. The only thing that might deter the Blue Jays from trading Happ to New York is the fact that the Yankees are in the same division as Toronto. All facts considered, I think the Yankees would probably only need to give up a couple of medium to low level prospects for Happ, which would be a good value, but I’m not sure Happ is the guy that would put the Yankees over the top in the American League.
Another name that has been thrown around frequently is Rangers' starter Cole Hamels. Hamels makes a lot of sense for the Yankees because the Rangers have been terrible this year so they will almost definitely be looking to trade him at the deadline. I think trading for Hamels would be a better move than trading for Happ because Hamels has had World Series experience in the past and is a proven winner. I don’t think the Yankees would really have to give up much for Hamels either since he will get paid a total of $20M this season, and he, much like Happ, is past his prime as he is currently 34. I think Hamels would be a great fit in the Yanks rotation, probably sliding in after Severino and Tanaka, and before Gray and Sabathia. This would give the Yankees five great options in the playoffs, so none of their starters would be forced to pitch on short rest.
One of my favorite pitchers the Yankees might potentially go after at the deadline is Tigers' starter Michael Fulmer. Fulmer has shown that he can be great in the past and this greatness was recognized in 2016 when Fulmer won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, which should have gone to Gary Sanchez but I’m over it. The only issues with a potential trade for Fulmer, is that the Tigers probably won’t want to trade him when his value is low, which it probably is right now since he currently has an ERA over four. On the other hand, if Fulmer got back on track and increased his trade value, the Yankees would have to give up quite a lot for Fulmer, as he still has four years of arbitration left on his contract after 2018, making him extremely affordable and valuable to any team. I would love to see the Yankees pull off a trade for Fulmer since they probably wouldn’t have to give up as much for him as they would have had to before this season started.
A couple of other options that I have heard get floated around are Rays' starters Blake Snell and Chris Archer. Archer is a similar case to Fulmer, so I don’t think he will be on the trade market this year since he has not been great this year, sporting a 4.24 ERA at the moment. Also like Fulmer, Archer has a few years left on his contract after 2018, so that would increase his value to any potential suitors, complicating a potential trade. For these reasons, I believe Blake Snell would be the better option for the Yankees, as he is 25 years old, has not even reached his arbitration years yet, and owns a 2.48 ERA so far this year. Snell would be a perfect fit behind Severino in the Yankees rotation, and would give them a rotation that is definitely better than Boston’s and much more comporable to Houston’s. Snell is the guy I would most like to see the Yankees go after at the deadline as he seems to be a perfect fit. The Rays might not want to deal Snell to a team within the division, but I think their front office is smart enough to put that aside and strike a deal with any team that gives them fair value for an ace like Snell. If the Yankees were to offer the Rays a package of Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Dillon Tate, I think the Rays would be interested in dealing their top pitcher. This might seem like a lot for the Yankees to give up, but the Yankees top current prospect is outfielder Estevan Florial, and the Yankees outfield is already loaded with talent, so giving up Frazier would not be that big of a hit to their team. The other two players in this hypothetical deal, Adams and Tate, are two quality pitching prospects, so I believe a deal similar to this one might get the deal done. Even though the Yankees would have to give up a lot for Snell, I think it would be well worth it in order to make them a much more serious threat to dethrone the Astros this year.
Contract info courtesy of spotrac.com
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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