I don’t need to tell any reader out there that the Yankees’ rotation is going to be an area of concern all year. Even if we witness the best-case scenario where two of Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green step up and stick in the rotation, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia stay healthy, and Micheal Pineda shows some consistency, there’s always that creeping, lurking suspicion that the Jenga tower collapses with a sneeze.
So if that’s the best case scenario, the median outcome isn’t that great, either. I am no fan of Cessa and Green (they have respective 4.82 and 4.29 ERA Steamer projections), I’ll admit, and I’m incredibly skeptical we see a full season of competent performance from both Severino and Warren, who have never shown that before. The same can be said for Sabathia and Pineda.
And I’m sure Brian Cashman feels the same way. I couldn’t speculate what the long term strategy is—they might not have one—but I do know the front office is always on the lookout for young, high upside, controllable arms; that’s how Nathan Eovaldi and Pineda, for example, end up in pinstripes.
That’s why the report from NJ.com that Cashman and company are scouting the Nationals’ Erick Fedde and the Astros’ Joe Musgrove isn’t at all surprising. Fedde was a first rounder back in 2016 out of the University of Las Vegas, and he now finds himself the best pitcher in the system after the departure of Lucas Giolito.
Eric Longenhagen had a good report on him a few days back where he named him the third-best prospect in the system. He pegs him at a 50 future value, a pretty fair grade given his fastball and slider combination that flashes plus and fringe-average command. He’s already a Tommy John victim, and Longenhagen describes his mechanics slightly unfavorably, that “...his lower half is frail, often unbalanced and at times plays no role in his delivery at all.”
Musgrove is a relative surprise out of the Astros’ system, and he even made the rotation just last year; his stock had fallen considerably for a while since being picked in the first round back in 2011. Eno Sarris had a fascinating piece on him when he made the major league club in August, where he talked about his “one-seam sinker,” whereby he hugs a single seam on the ball to create a considerable vertical drop.
Musgrove doesn’t throw nearly as hard as Fedde (just about 91 mph as opposed to upwards of 97 mph), but the profiles are kind of similar: right-handed starters with team control, relative upside, but a few quirks. Musgrove will give up the long ball, and Fedde’s health and command just aren’t givens.
But even the fact that they’re scouted says something, right? Cashman loves stockpiling the systems with a lot of arms like this, and I could be projecting that this is some kind of organizational strategy, but if it is, it has decent benefits: Warren, Eovaldi, Cessa, David Phelps, Chase Whitley, Shane Greene, and I could go on—Fedde and Musgrove are better than most of them but they’re all essentially at 40-55 future value. Maybe the organization squeezes a little extra out of them, or maybe they leverage their value in trade talks.
With the Yankees just desperate for pitching, and considering Pineda, Sabathia, and possibly Tanaka all depart after 2017, pitching has to be a priority—plain and simple. I’m not fully decided if Fedde or Musgrove would be great fits, but they’re players on the bubble to think about. We’re likely a few months from that trigger being pulled, if it is, but we at least now have a clue as to who the Yankees are targeting.