The 2018 trade deadline is still over a month away, but the Yankees are in need of a starting pitcher right now. Given the circumstances, it makes sense for them to try and make a deal sooner rather than waiting around for the end of July. On the opposite end of the spectrum are teams out of contention who are better off trading their most valuable pieces. There are several teams the Yankees could do business with, but who are they, and how likely is it a deal could be agreed upon?
Very Likely to Happen
Rather surprising is the fact that the Texas Rangers are in last place in the AL West, though a rotation comprised of Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and Matt Moore in 2018 wasn’t exactly destined for greatness. The only pitcher who has seen some modicum of success is Cole Hamels, but he’s not without his own issues. He has a 3.69 ERA in 85.1 innings, however, at 34 years old, a rise in home runs allowed may be a sign that he is finally starting to slow down.
The Yankees have just $12 million to spend this summer, and Hammels makes $23 million, so it will take some wheeling and dealing to make things work. For anyone who acquires Hamels, his $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout will be something that will need to be navigated carefully. Hamels seems like an early favorite for the Yankees, but there are enough red flags to make him a questionable addition.
The Padres are in last place, yet they remain only six games out of first place. While the rest of baseball expects San Diego to sell, it’s hard to know what general manager A.J. Preller plans to do anymore. The Yankees have dealt with them recently in their tradings of Chase Headley, so maybe there’s a chance these two teams could come together.
The major piece the Yankees should focus on here is Tyson Ross, who just may be the top pitcher on the market. He has a 3.51 ERA in 82 innings at the age of 31, and he’s only making $1.7 million this year before he reaches free agency for the first time. Ross may benefit from pitching in one of the biggest ballparks in baseball, but he would immediately improve the rotation.
Someone like Brad Hand could also be an interesting player to target. He currently has a 1.78 ERA and 13 K/9 in 35 innings as the Padres’ closer, and would be under team control for one more year. The Yankees might have their bullpen figured out, but with David Robertson’s contract expiring at the end of the year, it may be a good idea to look ahead.
Something Could Happen
There are other teams who should be selling at the deadline, but might not be very interested in making a deal with the Yankees. Division rivals Blue Jays and Rays are both in this category, as they have players New York could use but aren’t likely to make it easy. A deal might make sense under normal circumstances, but when you’re dealing with division rivals, teams are more likely to ask for the moon. It’s hard to see how these deals gets done.
Toronto has enjoyed a very successful three-year run from J.A. Happ, all while the rest of their roster crumbles. At the age of 35, he has a 3.48 ERA in 82.2 innings and his coming free agency makes him the perfect trade piece. Even if he continues to give up home runs in Yankee Stadium, he would be an upgrade for the Yankees. The hope would be that he also wouldn’t command too much in return.
Chris Archer, meanwhile, is still as talented as ever, but a rise in home runs in recent years has hurt some of his value. It’s certainly not great to take on a 29-year-old pitcher with some troubling tendencies, but you can’t turn away from the fact that he will be under control for another three years. He makes $7.6 million next year before his $9.5 million and $11 million team options come up.
If the Yankees see something that they could potentially improve, this would be a great get. The only problem is that the Rays are unlikely to make a deal with the Yankees, basically just on principle alone. Plus, Archer’s stock is kind of down right now, so it’s hard to properly gauge what he will command on the trade market, and what kind of premium New York will have to pay. Then again, Tampa Bay has made some questionable deals in the past.
Not Gonna Happen
There are some teams out there that should definitely sell, but for strange reasons they will refuse to do what’s best for the future of the organization. Other teams will simply not deal with the Yankees out of stubbornness. Those two teams are the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants.
The Mets are terrible once again, and currently sit at the bottom of the NL East. It’s hard to take the idea of them selling seriously when they can’t seem to part with Jose Reyes. The Yankees can give them the young talent they so desperately need in exchange for an arm (or two) that they won’t really benefit from in any meaningful way. That means Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz should all be on the trading block, even if they have several years of team control remaining. If the Mets ever do decide to go this route, they will never deal with the Yankees for some reason.
The Giants are still bad, and it looks like their long run of success is finally over. Instead of holding onto the past, the team needs to do the right thing and focus on the future. This means trading Madison Bumgarner for the best deal they can find. The 28-year-old ace has only just returned from injury, but given his reputation, teams should be lining up for him this summer. Since he still has another year of control, the Giants really have no reason to trade him, so it’s likely they will hold onto him for as long as they can.