Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Yes, it's true... I am now anticipating that the New York Yankees will trade for a starter before the July 31 trading deadline.  I have spent years trying to get into Brian Cashman’s head and understanding how he thinks.  The David Robertson, Todd Frazier deal came out of nowhere, but I get it totally.  And now I've been thinking about starters as well.

Photo: Getty Images
The Yanks have 4 decent starters already in Tanaka, Severino, Sabathia, and Montgomery.  When they had Pineda as well, they were all set and would find difficulty upgrading any of their 5 starters enough to make giving up prospects worthwhile.  Now, with Pineda gone, it's my opinion their best option is Chance Adams.  I think Adams could step in now and likely do as well or better than most starters that the Yankees would be able to trade for.  Thus, for 2017, it is not worth giving up prospects to get a starting pitcher.

However, Cashman will also be thinking about 2018 and 2019.  Looking ahead to 2018, the Yanks will likely have Tanaka back.  I doubt Tanaka will opt out of 3 years, $68M given the year he's had.  While it's true he could reels off an amazing second half, I doubt it strongly, and so, he'll be back next year.  And so, that gives us Tanaka, Severino, Montgomery and Chance Adams for 2018.  But who will be the 5th starter? 

Photo: Newsday
Kaprielian is not ready yet given his surgery.  I doubt any of our other pitching prospects (i.e. Justus Sheffield) is ready.  So the Yanks will either need to re-sign CC to a 1-year deal or they will need to go out and get a starter via trade or free agency.  And so, let’s look at each of those options:
Free Agents:

Looking at the 2017-18 free agent class, I think the I would rule out the free agent possibility.  The only decent starters that are going to be free agents are all over 30 years old and will be looking for long-term deals.  Those options are:

Photo: Getty Images
Yu Darvish: The Yankees are not going to give $20M per year to a 31-year old pitcher coming off TJ surgery.  Yes, someone will pay Darvish, but I don’t see Cashman doing it.  The Yanks are looking only at younger players these days.  They are not giving out $100M contracts to guys that are already 30+ anymore. My opinion of course....

Jake Arrieta: See above.  Arrieta will be 32 next season.  He will want big money, but he is not even performing well this year with an ERA of 4.17.

Photo: Getty Images
Johnny Cueto: Cueto can opt out of his last 4 years and $84M of his contract with the Giants.  If he does that, he will obviously want at least a 5-year deal for $20M per year.  But he will be 32 and currently has an ERA of 4.59.  No thanks.

CC Sabathia: If CC continues to pitch well down the stretch, I think this could be an option.  But if he continues to pitch well, CC may be able to get more than a 1-year deal, which would rule him out.  I believe Cashman would consider CC more of a fall back option though, not a primary.  That's because Cashman doesn’t know whether CC will continue to pitch well enough to warrant a spot in the 2018 rotation, or that CC will be willing to accept a 1-year deal even after having pitched well.

Personally, I don’t think that the CC, 1-year deal option will impact Cashman’s decision concerning whether to make a trade for a starting pitcher that the Yanks can use in the 2018 rotation. 

Now let's look at trades, because that's where I'm going with this.  If Cashman has already concluded that he will not be signing a free agent starting pitcher, which I believe he has, then his only primary option to fill the 2018 open rotation spot is via a trade. 

Photo: New York Daily News
With a trade for a starting pitcher that is under control for 2018 and possibly beyond, Cashman can solve the 2018 rotation problem now.  Of course, it is possible he would wait for the Winter, but some of the guys that are available now will no longer be available in the Winter.  While I don’t think Cashman is going to give up #1 Gleyber Torres, #2 Clint Frazier, #5 James Kaprelian, #6 Justus Sheffield, or #7 Chance Adams, I do think he will give up a few other prospects to get a good starter that is under control for at least 2018. 

I think #4 Jorge Mateo could be dealt if the price was right.  I also think that #9 Miguel Andujar, #11 Tyler Wade, or #14 Tyler Austin are all players Yanks might deal to get a starter. 

And this is now me in Cashman's head.  With all I've now stated, I believe a trade will happen... and here are the options:

Photo: Getty Images
Sonny Gray: I think Gray is a good possibility for the Yankees.  He is under control through 2019 and is only 27 years old and is pitching decently this year.  The difficulty in getting Gray is that I don’t know that you can get him without giving up a top prospect.  The Cubs gave up their #1 prospect (#8 overall) plus more to get Jose Quintana, who had an ERA over 5.00.  Teams will give up good prospects to get a young starter that has years of control.  So the Yankees may fall short in trying to acquire Gray if other teams step up, which is likely.

Gerrit Cole: Another young starter (26) who is controlled through 2019.  Cole might make sense as his 4.35 ERA might have lowered his value enough that Yankees could get him without giving up top prospects.

Photo: Sun Sentinel
Dan Straily: Marlins may be having a fire sale.  Straily put up a 14-8 record in 2016 with an ERA of 3.76 with the Reds, and has continued to pitch well starting for the Marlins this year (7-4, 3.32).  He is under control through 2021.  I believe the Yankees might be interested.

Julio Teheran: Julio is 26 and signed through 2019.  Braves are actually in the race, but may realize it is not realistic that they can contend.  Teheran had a 3.21 ERA in 30 starts in 2016, but he is not pitching well this year (4.69) so he could be had.

Look, in the end, I think I have finally cracked the code to Cashman's brain.  I think I was able to really pick apart the options, and really come to some decent options for our Yankees.  Will any of this happen? Who honestly knows... really. I do know this though... we need to get back on track, and a starter that can really help our club.

But enough about my thoughts. What do you think? Comment.

--Douglas Solomon

BYB Guest Writer

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