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Yankees potential trade partner: Cincinnati Reds

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The Yankees and Reds made a trade over the offseason. Could they deal again at the deadline?

MLB: Houston Astros at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees need some more pieces to help prepare for a deep postseason run. With both teams headed in different directions, New York and Cincinnati very well may link up at the trade deadline, and Brian Cashman is no stranger to Reds general manager Nick Krall. At the end of January, Cashman and Krall agreed on a deal that shipped Sonny Gray to Cincy. Now six months later, the Reds are a team with some interesting trade chips, and even though they are not too far out of contention, FanGraphs gives them an 11% chance of making the playoffs. With that said, let’s have a look at who the Yankees may want to take a flyer on.

As a whole, the Yankees’ starting rotation sports an ERA near 4.30, which is outside the top 10 in the majors. The bullpen has pitched to a 4.14 ERA, 10th in the league. Having been without top dogs all season such as Luis Severino and Dellin Betances due to injury, New York needs to bring reinforcements to the Bronx, especially since their returns are unknown.

The realistic targets:

Tanner Roark

Tanner Roark pitched six seasons with the Washington Nationals before moving to Cincy on a one-year deal. The veteran has a 3.51 ERA in 92.1 innings and strikes out nearly nine batters per nine. He would not be the “ace” that most fans are looking for, but he would be a solid part in the rotation. At 32-years-old, Roark will not overpower hitters with his fastball as it sits in the lower 90s. Like CC Sabathia, he pitches to soft contact. His number one pitch is his sinker, and he throws it nearly 30% of the time. Being a contact pitcher with a sinker, Roark should be getting lots of groundballs, but he’s not. His groundball percentage is a career-low 35.7%, and Roark’s exit velocity has been trending the wrong way since 2015. This season, batters are hitting balls at an average exit velocity of 89.1 mph against him. Tanner Roark may be an upgrade to the rotation, but he would need to pitch better over the next few weeks for Cashman to pull the trigger on a trade for him.

Raisel Iglesias

Using guys like Jonathan Holder, Luis Cessa or David Hale late in games or in high-leverage situations doesn’t normally end well, and will not work well in the postseason either. Raisel Iglesias has closed 14 games for Cincinnati thus far, and 30 just a season ago. In 34 appearances this year, he owns a 4.29 ERA, while striking out 46, and a carries a 1.40 WHIP. Those numbers are not too eye-popping, specifically for a closer. He wouldn’t be the closer if he was traded to the Yankees, though. Iglesias would most likely be used the same as Adam Ottavino and pitch in any inning he’s needed, which could potentially work better for him. Yes, Iglesias has had some ups-and-downs in his 2019 campaign, and his numbers hover around average. However, he has been pretty unlucky, as well. His BABIP is the highest of his career at .322. On the flip side, he also has the highest K/9 of his career right now. Check out the difference between his expected wOBA and his actual wOBA:

Raisel Iglesias’ expected wOBA in 2019.
Baseball Savant
Raisel Iglesias’ wOBA in 2019.
Baseball Savant

Nonetheless, Iglesias needs to get his walks down. He has given free passes to 17 batters making his BB/9 a career-high. If he can improve his control and command, he could definitely be a piece the Yanks look at.

The dream target:

Luis Castillo

No, not the former Met Luis Castillo who dropped the popup. This is a 26-year-old flamethrower, and he has been one of the best pitchers in 2019. Castillo has hurled roughly 100 innings with a 2.47 ERA (4th best in MLB) and 115 punch-outs, which is a 28.5% strikeout rate. In mid-June, Castillo pitched against arguably the Yankees’ biggest threat in the American League, the Houston Astros. He went six innings, allowing two runs on just two hits, and struck out seven. It’s hard to touch him. Opposing batters have an expected batting average of .188, which is in the top 5% of the league. This is Castillo’s third season in the bigs and he hasn’t even hit his arbitration years yet, which also means he doesn’t become a free agent until 2024. Trading for him would take a haul. Does Cashman think Castillo is the right guy? Would the Reds trade such a talent with so many years of control? The answers to those questions remain to be seen, but he’d be a major upgrade to the starting rotation.

Luis Castillo’s 2019 rankings compared to league average.
Baseball Savant

The wildcards:

Yasiel Puig

It’s unlikely, but the Yanks could deal for Yasiel Puig. He’s slashing a .242/.294/.467 with 18 homers. He has an absolute cannon for an arm, and we don’t really know what’s going on with Giancarlo Stanton in terms of his return. Injuries have sputtered all throughout the roster, especially in the outfield. Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Stanton, Clint Frazier and Cameron Maybin have all hit the injured list at some point this year. Puig is a free agent next year so he’d only be a rental piece. In a competitive NL Central, Cincinnati should be motivated to move Puig if the Reds are headed nowhere. Hey, we know that Gio Urshela would get along with him.

Scooter Gennett

After missing the first three months of the season with a groin injury, Scooter Gennett has returned to baseball. Just like Puig, he is a free agent after the season’s end and would be a rental. If he were to make his way to the Bronx, he’d primarily backup Gleyber Torres and be a bat off the bench. Gennett blasted 23 bombs in 2018, and could be a dangerous lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium.

The Reds have some intriguing players that Brian Cashman could acquire to make his team better. It’ll be interesting to see if they match up again as the trade deadline approaches.