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Trade options for the rotation

The first quarter of the 60 game sprint is in the books. The Yankees are 10-6 after the first 16 games, good for a .625 winning percentage. All things considered, we should be happy with that but there are some concerns both now and on the horizon.

The offense has carried this team to their 1st place record thus far. They are in the top five for homeruns, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging and their overall numbers looked a lot better before some of the recent stinkers where the offense failed to show up. The problem moving forward will be starting pitching (and to some extent the bullpen) and the Yankees need to shore that line of defense up if they want to be in the best position to advance in the postseason. The trade deadline is less than three weeks away and there are some intriguing options out there on the market for the Yankees.

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer has become a voice for displeasure in baseball that some people either love or hate. One thing fans can’t hate on is the on field production. Since 2018, Bauer has a 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9 over 407.2 innings and in three starts so far in 2020 he is shoving with a .93 ERA, .57 WHIP, and 14.9 K/9. In 2019, Bauer had a bit of a red flag pop up after posting a slightly elevated BB/9 compared to 2018 (2.93 in ’18 and 3.46 in ’19). Add that to him doubling his HR/FB rate in 2019 and that how you get more than two runs added to his ERA last year.

That HR/FB is still there this year albeit in a much smaller sample size. The reason it hasn’t hurt him like it did last year is because he’s only walked four batters in three starts. Bauer is a free agent after this season and the Reds are probably not going to compete this year or sign him to a long-term deal. If he continues on his 2020 pace, it might be worth acquiring him for the postseason.

Robbie Ray

The stat line on Robbie Ray has always been the same. High strikeouts (12.1 K/9 since ’18), high walk rate (4.8 BB/9 since ’18), and homeruns (19.4% HR/FB since ’18). The Diamondbacks are probably not going to view Ray as a long-term piece so moving him at the deadline makes sense.

First year pitching coach Matt Blake is already known for identifying characteristics in a pitcher’s delivery that need improvement. If Blake can work with Ray and iron out an issue in his delivery, maybe that high walk-rate can come down a bit. Going from Chase Field to Yankee Stadium won’t do any favors for his HR/FB rate but cutting down on the free passes will make those home runs less painful. Getting a high strikeout pitcher for a below market price should be a focus of Brian Cashman and Robbie Ray is that type of pitcher for sure.

Mike Minor

Mike Minor would be an interesting grab for the Yankees because he comes with some flexibility. Over the last several seasons he has moved between the bullpen and the rotation (although he has mostly been a starter since 2018). That flexibility is even more valuable in a season like this. Flexibility is nice but is Minor even a good pitcher? I believe he is at the very least above average.

Since 2018, he has put up a 3.97 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP. That is pretty good even if he has an elevated HR/FB rate (12.4%) to go with those numbers. His BABIP (.275) and strand rate (75.6%) are nothing special but that is basically who Mike Minor is as a starter. He is above average slightly but not so much that he jumps off the page at you. He doesn’t even strikeout a batter per inning or have a high groundball rate.

Now, if he were moved to the bullpen, those numbers could improve but if he were to be acquired, the focus should be using him in the rotation.