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Trading Justin Wilson to the Tigers was a good thing for the Yankees

They may not be the best, but imagine the rotation without Chad Green and Luis Cessa right now.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Back in December, Brian Cashman made what many considered a puzzling move when he traded Justin Wilson to the Tigers in exchange for Chad Green and Luis Cessa. After all, this trade happened prior to the Aroldis Chapman acquisition and after the Adam Warren trade. Many thought Cashman was weakening the already weakened bullpen, where Wilson filled in admirably as Joe Girardi’s seventh inning guy, to get some “lesser” depth prospects for his rotation.

Considering it hasn’t even been a full season yet, it’s too early to declare a “winner” of the trade. Considering the current state of the rotation, however, it isn’t too early to declare that it was a good thing Cashman made this deal.

Neither one has been particularly inspiring in the majors this year, save for a couple Green starts, but I shudder at the thought of what the rotation would be without them right now. This whole season the rotation, outside of Masahiro Tanaka, has been extremely disappointing.

CC Sabathia had his extremely surprising and resurgent first half but has since come back down to Earth. Michael Pineda has sprinkled in some decent starts but has overall been plain bad. Luis Severino has taken 10 steps backwards after his promising rookie campaign. Ivan Nova was Ivan Nova, but he’s Pittsburgh’s problem now. And then there’s Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi started the season looking like an ace, but then everything went downhill for him. All of a sudden Eovaldi lost it, then got sent to the bullpen heading into the All-Star break. He rejoined the rotation afterwards, but that wouldn’t last long as he was placed on the disabled list earlier this month.

The news got worse for Eovaldi yesterday when he learned he will miss the rest of this season and likely all of 2017.

If there’s the one thing the Yankees are desperate for right now, it’s reliable starting pitching. Good thing the free agency market is flush with good options. Oh wait. The options out there are pretty bad, which makes this trade even more important as it’s almost likely to have ramifications next year as well.

Justin Wilson was a good reliever for the Yankees, but not untouchable. He’s been okay for the Tigers this year, but is now nursing an ailing elbow. After the Yankees traded him, they acquired Aroldis Chapman which effectively gave Dellin Betances the seventh inning and upgraded there. Sure, the Yankees have struggled in middle relief this season, but the bullpen has mostly stabilized somehow after trading Chapman and Andrew Miller and reacquiring Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard. Funny how things work out sometimes.

What hasn’t stabilized, however, is the rotation. That’s where Green and Cessa come into play, and that’s why the Wilson trade needed to be made. If nothing else, there really are no other options in the system right now.

Sure there are arguments for making Warren a starter again or bringing Severino back to the majors, but there are also arguments against that. Acquiring Green and Cessa gives Brian Cashman options to do what he and his team of coaches and scouts feel is the best and doesn’t force the Yankees to do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing. In Triple-A Scranton, Cashman also has the likes of Brady Lail, Dietrich Enns, and Jordan Montgomery as rotation options, the latter two are having especially good seasons thus far, but none of them have extensive experience in Triple-A, so it would likely be too high a risk to bring them and depend on them this year.

Plugging Cessa and Green in the rotation now also helps with what the Yankees have been doing since they “sold” at the trade deadline. While they’re still “in it” and competing for a Wild Card spot, they’re mainly trying to evaluate their talent to see what they have for 2017. Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Gary Sanchez are getting extensive looks to see if the Yankees can depend on them for next year, it’s only wise to do the same for the pitching.

If Green can pitch like he has all year in the minors and give more games like he did on Monday, and if Cessa can help solidify the rotation and pitch like he had in the minors, Cashman can feel comfortable not handing out regrettable deals to any of the free agent pitchers this off season.