The Yankees have the best record in baseball, but if they want to hold onto it, the team will need to acquire some extra pitching. Jordan Montgomery is gone for the year, Masahiro Tanaka is hurt, and Sonny Gray has been frustratingly inconsistent. Despite Domingo German’s best effort, the priority should be to upgrade the rotation this summer. Thankfully, Hal Steinbrenner talked to the media yesterday, and that is exactly what he plans to do.
This team didn’t put itself in the best position out of the gate. While the rotation seemed good on paper, it was clear that the team was going to need some more pitching. Back up options like Chance Adams and Luis Cessa have either been ineffective or hurt, and the organization‘s top prospects just aren’t ready for the big leagues yet. Steinbrenner acknowledged that “Clearly starting pitching was always a concern,” evidenced by the fact that Brian Cashman very nearly traded for Gerrit Cole in the offseason.
In anticipation for the team’s rotation problems, Steinbrenner “Purposely left a decent amount of money for just this.” Now the front office has $12 million to play with before they hit the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Despite their limited funds, though, the Yankees are not willing to trade the farm in return. The team owner told reporters that a trade “Depends what the asks are. I mean, I love the young guys.” He went further, saying that “Our fans love the young guys, and I think it’s obvious to all of us. They’ve made a heck of an impact.” It’s clear they see the value in young, cost controlled talent who have already made a great impression. The Yankees aren’t about to trade that away anytime soon.
As nice as this all is to hear, I can’t help but remain frustrated with the way this team handled this issue in the offseason. If they fully expected the rotation to be a weakness, why did they not do a better job acquiring big league pitchers? Obviously a main reason is their insistence to get under this tax threshold, which might finally happen this year. They couldn’t get an expensive arm and still have enough money at the deadline, so this was a calculated decision on their parts. However, $12 million is not a lot of money, and the options are limited this year.
The problem is that very few teams are out of contention at this point in the year, and there are very few standouts. The Yankees are hit even harder because of the division they happen to play in. There is no way the Rays would trade Chris Archer to a division rival, and the Blue Jays are unlikely to move J.A. Happ to the Bronx. Madison Bumgarner makes exactly $12 million this year, but will the Giants even move him? Since the Diamondbacks are still in contention, Patrick Corbin may not go anywhere. That leaves Cole Hamels, and his $23 million salary as the most likely option. Can they pull it off?
The recent rash of injuries and no internal solutions in sight have put the Yankees in a bad place in terms of potential trades. Now with the team’s owner outwardly discussing their intentions, the team has seemingly put their cards face up on the table. They have very little leverage right now. Hopefully Brian Cashman can pull off another heist, because if they don’t have a lot of money and aren’t willing to part with top prospects, they might be in trouble.
What do you think, who should the Yankees target this summer?