Lately, I have written a lot about what the Yankees could have done, or didn’t do, or decided to do, this slow offseason. It’s been truly exhausting. Sure, the major acquisition of the offseason was freakin’ Giancarlo Stanton, but other than the trade of Chase Headley and the acquisition of Neil Walker, the Yankees have largely stood pat as far as their overall roster construction is concerned.
It’s still the offseason, and there are still technically players available, but for all intents and purposes, the Yankees are done as they try to get under the luxury tax cap. They did, however, leave room for a possible trade deadline deal. In fact, I would argue they are poised to make such a trade.
Barring a major injury, this is certainly a rotation that will hold up in the playoffs. There is also enough depth just below the 25-man rister where they could still theoretically withstand a loss. If they truly want to put themselves over the top a la Justin Verlander last season, they would want to pick up one more pitcher. Just because you acquire another pitcher doesn’t mean those other competent arms like Jordan Montgomery or Chance Adams can’t be used in long relief, playoffs or otherwise.
With the additions of Brandon Drury and Walker, the Yankees are essentially stacked through the infield. They have the normal lineup of those two and Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, with a host of prospects in Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Tyler Wade. They could trade from this depth and remain reasonably comfortable in the infield.
They’re also stocked with outfielders. Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury (if he’s still alive), and Billy McKinney all factor into the mix. That’s not even counting the superstar players — Stanton and Aaron Judge. Once again, they could withstand a few blows.
In regards to the trade deadline, the Yankees will likely follow their acquisition modus operandi. They look for young, controllable pitchers with a possible flaw. That’s who they probably want for that put-you-over-the-top trade.
Michael Fulmer has been a longtime focus of Brian Cashman. While the Yankees angled for him all of this offseason, the offer of Frazier, Wade, and Thairo Estrada was turned down, and justifiably so. Blue chips would be necessary to acquire the pitcher who put up a 79 ERA- over his first two seasons and has five more seasons of team control. Even if the Yankees upped that offer, including Andujar instead of Wade, for example, the Yankees could absorb that and still be poised to sign Manny Machado after the year is up.
The same could be said for Chris Archer, another focus of the Yankees’ desires. who has two years and two option years left on his contract. Archer would be the guy to throw in every good prospect and the kitchen sink. Even though his ERA- (91) may reflect poorly in a way, his peripherals tell a different story; his Deserved Run Average ranks him as the 11th best pitcher in baseball last year. The home runs are a problem, but he is the real deal.
Another option is Julio Teheran, a Braves pitcher who fits into the “flawed” category, but checks off quite a few boxes: he is under control through 2020 for a total of $21 million, and he has been worth 11.1 fWAR over the last five seasons. He has been up-and-down—a 79, 104, 77, and 104 ERA- respectively over the last four seasons, but the potential is there and he is just 27 years old.
This is just me spit-balling, but you get the idea. All of these options are flawed in their own way, and this doesn’t even include the pitchers that could be theoretically available before a potential opt-out. The point is that the Yankees have the necessary pieces to absorb a trade for a young pitcher without subtracting from the big league club, and if they find themselves in the position of needing one more arm down the stretch and into October, they can dip into this well. It would cost them, but as the Astros just learned, flags fly forever.