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Why the Yankees should buckle down and pursue Jose Quintana

 

For a franchise with an abundance of youthful talent, it’s only natural to spend some time wondering what the future may hold in store. But the Yankees aren’t quite in a position to relish that whole experience yet, due to a considerably large question mark that happens to be seen on their current roster.

Whether or not the Yankees show signs of optimism in 2017, the state of their starting rotation will inevitably become a mystery, shrouded with uncertainties. By no stretch of the imagination is it absurd to envision next season’s staff without a front line ace on Opening Day. When factoring in the lack of quality outings, the dearth of starting arms, and the statuses of current contracts, the entire concept isn’t far-fetched.

So, how can the Yankees fix this problem soon, without compromising their future goals? Acquiring left-hander Jose Quintana would be a good start.

Yes, the rumor has lingered on for months. But save the snickering–and the dirty looks–as this potential trade is as reasonable as it is necessary.

Consider these few reasons:

#1: Quintana’s price is steep, but affordable

It’s no secret that the Chicago White Sox have set trade prices high, considering the bevy of prospects they received from the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals this winter in exchange for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, respectively. But the Yankees are living with a high-end problem, which is a surplus of hitting prospects on the farm. There isn’t much logic in holding onto players like Jorge Mateo, Rob Refsnyder, or Dustin Fowler if there won’t be a starting position available for them in the coming seasons. So, including names like these in a deal could intrigue Chicago. But, of course, the package wouldn’t end there. It’s fair to assume the White Sox would also ask for Luis Severino and a highly touted outfielder like Aaron Judge or Clint Frazier, but is that outrageous or jeopardizing? With two eyes open, it really isn’t.

#2: Masahiro Tanaka could leave the Bronx this winter

Try to ignore Tanaka’s stellar spring numbers. Also, try to ignore his woeful opening day start. Before all of this occurred, the conversation revolved around the 28-year-old’s future in New York, as his seven-year, $155 million contract has an opt out clause after the 2017 season. In the winter, Tanaka’s representatives declined to speak on the matter, as did the Yankees, but it seems there’s at least an ounce of tension between the two parties. Just this past week, sources told the NY Daily News that if Tanaka chooses to opt out, the team wouldn’t likely be interested in bringing him back. While general manager Brian Cashman and president Randy Levine denied playing hardball with Tanaka, the situation calls for it. A great sum of money is at stake here, as Tanaka will make $22 million this year, and if he elects to stay, he’ll receive $22 million in 2018 and 2019, and $23 million in 2020. If money isn’t an issue, consider Tanaka’s partially torn UCL, which is still a great inconvenience. Granted, Tanaka’s numbers in the past three years have been solid, but if he–and the Yankees–aren’t viewing the contract as a distraction, well, come on.

#3: James Kaprielian’s role as future ace still ambiguous

The Yankees’ top pitching prospect was scheduled to start High-A Tampa’s opener on Thursday, but Kaprielian reported pain in his elbow, and was immediately placed on the minor league disabled list. All arm injuries are troubling, and considering the 23-year-old’s history of setbacks, the Yankees are likely biting their nails. It also isn’t reassuring to learn that Kaprielian’s MRI results are receiving a second opinion, so the chances of Tommy John surgery are still alive … for now. It’s certainly a shame, as the Yankees have held Kaprielian in such high esteem since they drafted him in 2015. Missing another season would hinder the team’s plans and expectations.

#4: Other pitching prospects not guaranteed success

The jury still seems to be out on whether Luis Severino has the ability to flourish as a major league starter. While the 23-year-old’s stuff is electric, it doesn’t show up on a consistent basis, so the next few months will help the Yankees determine his true worth. If Severino fails, he may be best suited as a bullpen or trade piece. Left-handed prospect Jordan Montgomery received attention this spring, and he’s in the running for the Yankees’ fifth rotation spot, but there’s no guarantee that he will excel either. Also in the mix are Chance Adams and Chad Green, but development is still needed for those two righties. It’s a  glass-half-empty mentality, but the team can’t assume everything will be coming up roses.

#5: Contracts soon to expire for CC, Pineda

Both CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda will become free agents after the year. The likelihood of Sabathia (who turns 37 this July) returning to New York in 2018 is slim to none, and as of now, Pineda’s future with the team is also ambiguous, due to consistent inconsistencies (at least he’s consistent with something). Sooner than later, the Yankees will be in the market for a dependable lefty. Sooner than later, the Yankees will be looking to fill two more rotation spots.

#6: 2019 FA class will be historic, but are there enough quality arms?

Headlined by players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Andrew McCutchen, the 2018-19 free agent class will be one for the ages, and the Yankees will surely want to place their mark on history. But are there enough quality arms on the market? Yu Darvish is the on the list, but the Texas Rangers may look to extend their ace beforehand. Matt Harvey is also there, but he needs to show the Mets and baseball more than one healthy and successful season. Dallas Keuchel was the American League Cy Young for the Astros in 2015, but his performance last year was the farthest thing from dominant. If these names excite the Yankees, it’ll take a whole lot of trust … oh, and money.

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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