As we’ve progressed through our potential trade partner series, we’ve hit on some obvious suitors. The Yankees have a need for starting pitching. The Blue Jays can offer J.A. Happ, the Tigers have shopped Michael Fulmer, while the Mets are withholding but still possess Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The Marlins, it’s safe to say, don’t have these kind of appealing trade chips. They don’t have any aces to offer the Yankees, and they don’t even really have any particularly appealing mid-rotation arms with which to plug holes. From that perspective, the team that was agreeable enough to make Giancarlo Stanton a Yankee doesn’t make for an obvious trade partner this time around.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In recent days, the Yankees have shown a willingness to get creative, at least based on the rumors. With starting pitching thin on the trade market, the Yankees have supposedly considered all sorts of options, whether it’s beefing up with another position player star in Manny Machado, adding a bullpen arm in Zach Britton, or something else entirely.
This is an interesting idea. The simplest, most direct way the Yankees could use to improve is just adding a front-line starter, but if that’s not an option, doubling down on strengths makes for an intriguing possibility. It might not be the most efficient way of doing things, but in competing with the other American League super-teams, it behooves the Yankees to get better in any way they can.
So, if the Yankees don’t end up targeting the rotation as a place to upgrade, perhaps Miami could actually come in handy as a trade partner. The Marlins, perpetually in a state of retooling, certainly will be open for business come the trade deadline.
The Marlins have position players to offer, though it’s hard to see the Yankees biting. J.T. Realmuto is their best and most valuable player, but he plays the same position as Gary Sanchez. Starlin Castro will surely be available, but consider a reunion with the Yankees as unlikely.
Derek Dietrich could fit slightly better. Dietrich has posted a career-best 126 OPS+ in his age-28 season, and can play five different positions across the field. He profiles as perhaps a better version of what the Yankees were looking for when they traded for Brandon Drury. The Yankees have a position player logjam, so it’s unlikely they’ll add to that pileup for anyone other than a star like Machado, but if Drury or Neil Walker struggle, it’s possible they would consider bringing in a versatile bench player.
If the Yankees do consider dealing with Miami, though, it would probably be for pitching. Miami’s best starters are Dan Straily and Jose Urena, so no dice there. They do have some potentially appealing relief options, however.
Right-hander Kyle Barraclough, 28, is having a career year, posting a 1.34 ERA in 40.1 innings. He’s under control through 2021. Drew Steckenrider, a 27-year-old right-hander, has a 2.75 ERA in 75.1 career innings, striking 101 batters in that span. He’s under team control through 2023.
Both are appealing options, but with their quality performance and ample team control, the Marlins’ asking price is likely pretty high. The Yankees could also consider, then, a bit of a dark-horse candidate in Adam Conley.
Conley is a 28-year-old lefty who was just converted to relief this year. He was unimpressive as a starter the past three seasons, but has performed well in a limited 21-game sample this year, running a 3.32 ERA and a 10.8 K/9.
Most importantly, Conley’s stuff has popped in the bullpen. After averaging just 90 mph on his fastball last year, per Brooks Baseball, his velocity has shot all the way up to 95.5 mph this year in relief. He also owns a slider and changeup, both of which have generated above average whiffs in a small sample.
He has relied heavily on his fastball, using it over 60% of the time, something which the Yankees would surely discourage. If the Yankees ever decide they are sick of Chasen Shreve and want to take a chance to upgrade their second bullpen lefty position, Conley looks like he has potential. He has a limited track record in relief, but appears to have the stuff to be molded into a strong option out of the pen.
The Yankees would certainly have to get creative to deal with Derek Jeter and the Marlins again, but it might be worth trying. The simplest way to improve the team is to add a great starter, but failing that, there are tons of more complex ways Brian Cashman could try to upgrade. In that case, he should at least give Miami a call.