The Yankees need starting pitching. As luck would have it, the Oakland Athletics have interest in trading Sonny Gray. The two sides have been reportedly discussing a trade that would send Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso to New York in exchange for prospects. Oakland is supposed to be interested in Jorge Mateo and Estevan Florial, among others, and the Yankees were in attendance to watch Gray’s start last night.
These are all important details because if the Yankees don’t manage to get Gray, who will be under team control for an additional two seasons, they are basically out of luck on the trade front. They have already acquired David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, so it’s unlikely they seek to add any more bullpen arms. It’s Gray or nothing at this point.
Following the loss of Michael Pineda and the subpar replacements available to them, you can see just how important this trade is to the Yankees. We can take a look at some of the alternatives if you want, but it’s not pretty.
The San Francisco Giants have the expensive duo of Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. Shark has $59 million over three years left on his deal, which isn’t necessarily a bad price. Unfortunately, he has an ERA north of 5.00 and a 1.5 HR/9 that say he’s not a good fit for Yankee Stadium.
Cueto, meanwhile, has a 4.59 ERA, the same home run rate—which is a feat in AT&T Park—and is owed more than $87 million over the next four years. The good news is that Cueto can opt out of his deal after the season, the bad news is that it’s highly unlikely he goes anywhere. No one is topping that contract.
Looking at the Marlins, Dan Straily is an interesting name to gander at. The 28-year-old righty has a 3.49 ERA with solid peripherals and several years of control that make him an enticing addition to any pitching staff. The problem is that Straily is a soft-tosser who has a career 1.4 HR/9, which is a combination that likely won’t translate at Yankee Stadium.
Scott Feldman has been about a league-average pitcher this season for the Reds with a 4.34 ERA, but the positives stop there. His peripherals have been iffy and a problematic home run rate makes him a questionable addition to the Yankees. He’s been on the disabled list since the 18th with knee inflammation, so he should be gearing up to return soon. Feldman won’t add too much value, but he’d be so cheap that his acquisition wouldn’t hurt.
New York’s best chance to upgrade the rotation outside of Sonny Gray would be with the Texas Rangers. The team has been lingering around contention, but an under-.500 team is still under .500 and selling could help them look to the future. The obvious target is Yu Darvish, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. He has been effective and healthy, which is what the Yankees really need in the short-term.
A step down from Darvish would be Andrew Cashner, who has been a surprise this season. He has a 3.64 ERA but his 3.9 BB/9 is an ugly look. Basically, he’s been good this year because he’s kept the ball on the ground and inside the ballpark.
It might even be worth exploring a deal for Cole Hamels, who is signed through the 2018 season. While it’s hard to see the Rangers giving up on next year too, a little extra value might convince them to pull the trigger. Hamels is due $23 million next season and has a $20 million team option for 2019 (it doesn’t seem that the more expensive vesting option is in play anymore) that the Yankees would happily pick up. He missed some time this year with an oblique strain, but it’s been business as usual otherwise.
Most pitchers you would want the Yankees to trade for aren’t available this year. As you can see, most of the alternatives above are not the kind of guys you want them to go after. Maybe Darvish or Cashner make sense for the short-term, but it’s Sonny Gray who makes the most sense long-term. Hopefully something can be worked out in the next few days.