It's becoming increasingly clear that the Yankees need another starting pitcher. Their lack of rotation depth was already viewed as a weakness coming into the season, and it has been fully exposed due to Jordan Montgomery's injury. With Domingo German coming off of two straight clunkers, both of which exhibited his wildness, the Yankees would surely like to roll with a surer option in the fifth spot of the rotation. In addition, with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray all struggling to find consistency, the Yankees need a legitimately good pitcher, not just some run-of-the-mill innings eater.
There's a pitcher who fits the bill perfectly, who is also very likely to be made available on the trade market. What's more, he could be had for a relatively low price. His name is Tyson Ross.
From 2013-2015, Tyson Ross was quietly one of the better starting pitchers in the game. During that span, pitching for the lowly Padres, he ranked 5th in HR/9 (0.52), 23rd in FIP- (85), and 24th in fWAR (9.4). Then, in 2016, he missed an entire season due to thoracic outlet syndrome, for which he underwent surgery in October of that year. The following year, the Rangers took a gamble on him, signing him to a one-year, $6 million deal. It didn't work out. In 49 innings that year, Ross walked more batters than he struck out and recorded an ERA of 7.71.
This year, however, Ross has experienced a resurgence. Ross was signed by his former team, the Padres, on a one-year minor league contract, and boy is he paying dividends. In 10 starts and 60.1 innings this year, Ross has pitched to the tune of a 3.13 ERA and a 3.36 FIP. His ground ball rate is the lowest it's ever been in his career, but all his other peripherals are where they were during his 2013-2015 peak. For all intents and purposes, Ross is back to his former self.
It's not hard to figure out how Ross is doing this. As Jeff Sullivan has documented over at FanGraphs, Ross' slider is one of the best pitches in the game, and he's regained full control over it this year after struggling to throw it with confidence in 2017. Please click on the link for some hot GIF evidence of its effectiveness. This isn't a case of some random veteran succeeding on smoke and mirrors. Ross has always had a first-class slider, and it's back in full force this year.
So, we've established that Ross is good. The Padres, on the other hand, are not. Sure, they have an embarrassment of riches in their farm system, but Ross is playing on a one-year deal, so he won't be around for the next great Padres team (in fact, I'm not sure I will be, either). As the trade deadline nears, AJ Preller would be wise to dangle Ross in front of contending teams in an attempt to pry away some minor league talent.
Not only is Ross available, he's also likely to be relatively cheap. As mentioned before, Ross is on a one-year contract. While the cheapness of that contract drives up Ross' surplus value, the fact that teams only get to have him for three to five months should keep his price from rising that much. The fact that he's one year removed from a missed season and surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome should also drive down Preller's ask. Plus, he's on the wrong side of 30, which tends to depress players' value by a bit.
Is it possible that Ross could be had for a package consisting of one borderline top-100 prospect and some organizational filler? Maybe one headlined by one of the many power arms in the Yankees’ system. It’s not out of the question. If Brian Cashman is able to get Ross, then this blogger would be quite pleased.