There are more question marks than you’d like on the Yankee pitching staff. This isn’t a hot take as much as it’s pretty obvious to everyone. Still, they’ve managed to take a commanding lead over the Red Sox in the AL East and have a comfortable gap between them and Tampa. Brian Cashman put together a hell of a core for this 2019 squad and beyond but wins aside, these question marks are hard to overlook when you’re thinking of the big picture.
Given the history of the last few World Champions there’s one constant. They gave up young talent in order to haul-in that missing piece.
The Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman after giving up Gleyber Torres. Out here in Yankee Land we all know who Gleyber is so he doesn’t need an introduction.
The Astros gave up Franklin Perez (their number-3 prospect), Daz Cameron (number-9 prospect), and Jake Rogers (number 11-prospect) and in return they got a Justin Verlander who returned to form and won them a championship.
In order to land Chris Sale a few-years back, the Red Sox sent over two guys who can be a staple in the White Sox organization for years. The first is Yoan Moncada. This year Moncada has come into his own hitting: 16 HR, 48 RBI, .308 AVG, .364 OBP, .544 SLG, .908 OPS, 138 OPS+
Michael Kopech is the other. He is unfortunately out for the year but in the minors he was a guy with a high strikeout rate. He’s a bit more of a question mark than Moncada but his ceiling is high.
When you look back at Chapman,Verlander and Sale, these guys were all pivotal in their respective club’s championship seasons. Each one was the missing piece that put their team over the top. Seeing how it has worked for these last three champions, the Yankees need to look themselves in mirror and ask themselves what a championship means to them. The team already has a bright, young core so does losing a high end prospect really make a difference in the long run?
One of the things Hal Steinbrenner said was that the Yankees weren’t afraid of spending. They were more worried about the future and who they’d give up.
Hal Steinbrenner said more concerned about level of prospect would give up in a trade than going over third luxury tax level: “That’s more important to me than the threshold. My biggest concern is what am I losing. What is the future I am giving up?” #Yankees
Maybe more so than the above mentioned Astros, Red Sox and Cubs, the Yankees have plenty of talent to land a haul. (And no I’m not talking about Max Scherzer. That guy isn’t getting traded to the Bronx so I won’t even bother ruining this article with fantasy.) At this point it’s going to be more about pulling the trigger than finding the right deal.
In a previous article I wrote about how the Yankees should keep hold of guys like Clint Frazier and Thairo Estrada. These two have the potential to be killers at the major league level and this year, we’ve seen flashes for both. As the season goes on and we see just how good this Yankee lineup is, my feelings on this are beginning to wane. Yes these are good ball players but a team that mashes the way this one does doesn’t always happen every year. We saw how potent Boston was last year and they slowed down. In 2018, a year removed from their title, the Astros nearly lost the division to the A’s at one point because they looked gassed. They managed to survive but come playoffs they were clearly banged up.
If the Yankees want to keep hold of Frazier the one thing they need to think of is: What makes more sense? Keeping him for the future or adding another arm for this year? I love Frazier and will defend him like the Frazier Truther that I am but maybe it’s best to strike while the iron is hot.
The same can be said with Estevan Florial. Are the Yankees better with him or a solid arm for this year?
If losing these guys will hurt, it isn’t the end of the road for the farm system. With the acquisition of their newest prized pup Jasson Dominguez, the Yanks have given themselves the chance to lose some depth in their farm system without feeling completely ripped off for the future. According to Fangraphs, Dominguez is already the #1 prospect in the system.
He and Deivi Garcia lead the pack while we’re seeing a little bit of a drop off from Estevan Florial and Johnny Lasagna. When you look at what the Sox, Astros and Cubs gave up, they were all top tier prospects and right now, who knows what Florial and Lasagna’s ceiling will be. Now could be the best time to trade while Brian Cashman and his Yanks still get the most bang for their buck. Since coming back from injury Florial has sputtered in the minors: 4 HR, 16 RBI, .220 AVG, .283 OBP, .367 SLG, .650 OPS
He might just be like what Stan told Jay Cutler in South Park:
Johnny Lasagna is another guy that falls under this category of Stan’s Dad Logic. We know he has the stuff. It’s in there somewhere. Just, given what we have seen of him, it’s hard to say if he’ll ever pull it off since he’s injured so much.
It’s a shame he is so injury prone because his upside can be so great.
For as much potential as some of our top tier prospects have, I do think, if the Yankees want to get the starters who can really piece together this rotation, Florial and Lasagna have to be on the trading block. Trade high like with Justus Sheffield and if they pan out, so be it. Just shine your trophy and ignore Florial’s 30/30 season with some team in the middle of the country.
Just like in 2009 when the Yanks brought in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, their version of that can be landing two starters at the deadline – one a top of the rotation guy and the other anchoring down the middle of the pack. You can probably do that when you’re paying with Florial, Loaisiga, Estrada and a kid who looks to be caught in the Yankee doghouse in Clint Frazier.
Now the question is, who can the Yankees get?
A Bauer Outage in the Bronx
If you’re talking about a deal with Florial, according to Jon Morosi during the winter, the Indians looked to be heavily interested in the young outfielder. If his report is true, the Yankees could have had Corey Kluber for him. That of course was not the case and now that we see what happened, it was probably for the best since Kluber struggled before going down for the season with a freak injury.
This of course shouldn’t spell the end for the Indians and Yanks. What’s to say this deal can’t be done but for another Indians pitcher?
Cue Trevor Bauer. (Get complaining that he can’t handle the New York media out of your system right now.) One thing Bauer can do for the Yankees that no other starter has done for them this year is give consistent length. Right now he leads the league in innings pitched with 132. No, his ERA (3.61) and FIP (4.10) aren’t sexy but the positive is that right now he’s holding hitters to a .214 AVG.
For Tanaka, who has a similar ERA, hitters are hitting .246 against him and Paxton, a guy who is supposed to anchor the top of the rotation, has a slightly higher ERA at 4.01 and hitters are hitting .267 against him. Our only other dependable starter has been Domingo German. Hitters have a .219 AVG against German and the unfortunate thing about him is that he has an innings limit. Even if he goes back to his dominant self for the time being, his usage will end up dropping dramatically.
Another guy the Yankees should be bringing in is Madison Bumgarner. Of all the pitchers available, he’s probably the best they can get that is the most realistic option on the market.
Now the negative here is MadBum is a rental. He can very well go off to free agency after the season. The positive is that he’s Madison Bumgarner. One of the drawbacks you’ll read online is that his stuff is diminishing. Well let me prove that wrong. Maybe it’s time we update that narrative. (I actually fell under this false prophesy that MadBum is getting worse. Then I did some research.)
Let’s go back to Baseball Savant. Here’s his 2018. Lots of blue. Not very sexy.
But here is his 2019. It looks like MadBum’s stuff is trending upward. The results are not great but, with his fastball and curve spin moving up in the league and his k% going up as well, everything else has the chance to improve.
These results give me reason to believe that he can too.
Innings pitched 2018: Only 129
Innings pitched 2019: 111.2
K’s Per 9 2018: 7.6
K’s Per 9 2019: 9.3
BB Per 9 2018: 3.0
BB Per 9 2019: 1.9
Now what the Giants need is outfield help. The Yankees do have that beyond Frazier and Florial. Take a look at a Ryan McBroom (AAA: 17 HR, 40 RBI, .310 AVG, .379 OBP, .566 SLG, .945 OPS) He could fit the bill. On top of this, while it would hurt to see Estrada go, he’s played some outfield too. He could be a part of a MadBum package. He and McBroom are young and talented ball players who are probably able to crack San Francisco’s lineup today.
Bauer and MadBum are out there but knowing Cashman, he probably can find somebody nobody had any idea was available. (No it’s not Max Scherzer so stop.) Who knew Encarnacion, Paxton and Andrew Mccutchen had the chance to be Yankees before they put on pinstripes. These weren’t deals that were exactly brewing. They were surprises and Brian Cashman could spin another surprise before the deadline.
I can’t picture who that would be but that’s the Cashman way. Anything is possible when you have a magician as GM.