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Yankees potential trade partner: Tampa Bay Rays

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Should the Yankees’ divisional rivals decide to sell, they have a number of pitching options that could intrigue Brian Cashman.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Yankees’ most desirable commodity at the trade deadline is no secret. After all, it’s been at the forefront of discussions regarding the club since December. The Bombers have an electric offense and a vaunted bullpen, but the starting rotation is widely considered to be what stands in the way of the team’s 28th championship. Luis Severino is a bonafide ace, but Jordan Montgomery is done for the season, Sonny Gray has been awful, and Masahiro Tanaka wildly inconsistent. The Yankees could use some help behind Severino to compete in the playoffs.

Fortunately for Brian Cashman, Tampa Bay possesses more than just a very annoying ballpark. The Rays, currently over 10 games out of the Wild Card race, could very well be sellers at the trade deadline as they continue their efforts to rebuild with their microscopic payroll. The team already moved a number of their assets in the offseason and could continue that trend prior to the end of the month. Should the Rays commence their clearance sale, the Yankees could address their greatest need in a trade with Tampa. The only question is, would any of the Rays’ starters solidify New York’s rotation for the stretch run?

There are three obvious names that come to mind in a potential trade with the Rays, and they’re all starting pitchers. Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Archer could all wind up on the trading block, and the Yankees have been preparing for that situation already.

Team scouts were on hand for Eovaldi’s brilliant outing against the Mets, where he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. He then gave up eight runs in 2.2 innings against the Twins on Friday. That’s the full Eovaldi experience in two starts. Still, he has been mostly better of late, seems to be healthy, and continues to build experience against the AL East. Will the Yankees see that as enough to try and form a reunion?

Snell represents the Rays’ top asset. He currently holds the fifth-best ERA (2.27) among starters in baseball. Snell’s last three starts haven’t been great, but his home runs per nine innings is under one, and another bonus is his success against the Red Sox, who are slugging just .231 against Snell. In his only start against Boston this season, Snell tossed six scoreless innings. That would be valuable for obvious reasons.

Snell expects to require the greatest haul, especially since he’s under team control until 2023. Given the state of the Yankees’ farm system, if Snell is on the block, the Yankees have a really good chance of grabbing him.

Then there’s the wild card in Archer. who won’t be a free agent until 2020. Archer has the established track record of success, but he hasn’t been up to par of late. An abdominal strain has limited the sample size for Archer in 2018, who suffered through a brutal April before starting to find his way in May, only to have his groove halted by the injury.

If the Yankees were interested in Archer, they would have to be careful with who they were trading. Would they be acquiring an under 30-year-old who has an extended history of being an elite starter, or a starter who recorded an ERA over four in each of the past two seasons, which could very likely continue this season? Like any potential trade, it has its risks, and Cashman will have to weigh his options. But when it comes to the Rays, there are a number of possibilities.