The Yankees have the best record in baseball, but the team’s rotation is not currently built to sustain that kind of performance. As much as Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga have done, this team will not be able to survive for much longer without reinforcements. Many of the trade targets are obvious: Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Jacob deGrom, but Brian Cashman may have to get a little more creative in order to improve the rotation. He may have to ask the Angels about Garrett Richards.
First called up in 2011 at the age of 23, Richards didn’t exactly break out until the 2014 season when he pitched to a 2.64 ERA and 4.3 WAR through 168.2 innings before suffering a season-ending freak injury in August. He stayed healthy in 2015 and managed to pitch over 200 innings, but since then it’s been an uphill battle. He nearly underwent Tommy John surgery, so that’s still hanging over his head. Two injury shortened seasons later, and it’s hard to say what exactly Richards is worth on the open market.
The good thing about him, though, is that when he’s on the mound, he’s effective. He has a 3.11 ERA over the last five seasons, even with a knee and elbow injury in there. Whatever he is worth in the long-term is up to whoever decides to sign him in the offseason. The Yankees would only need him for a few months before parting ways. Given his 3.42 ERA in 68.1 innings (despite the fact that he’s currently on the DL with a hamstring injury), he should be able to do the trick.
The Angels, for all the hype they received at the beginning of the year, have essentially imploded. They now sit 10.5 games behind in the AL West and 8.5 games in back of the Wild Card race. Shohei Ohtani is hurt and may never return, and Mike Trout is once again without a competitive team around him. Trout isn’t going anywhere, but if the Angels are smart, they won’t wait too much longer to start breaking down this team. The Yankees should be there to pick up what Anaheim is ready to move on.
A few years back, Richards was the future ace the team needed to put a real contender together. Now the future has come and gone, and it’s time to move on. The Yankees can still make Richards a winner, even if the Angels could not. The prorated portion of $7.3 million he is owed will make him affordable to the Yankees, and they can offer pieces for the next great Angels team, if such a thing ever exists. At that price, Cashman might even have enough money left over to add a second arm before everything is said and done.
What do you think, should the Yankees target Garrett Richards this summer?