The trade market for starting pitchers has been fairly active during the offseason, more active than even the free agent market at times. Lance Lynn, Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Carlos Carrasco, and Joe Musgrove have switched uniforms in the past few weeks.
For the New York Yankees, quality starting pitching is always welcome. Even after adding Corey Kluber on a one-year deal, they could benefit from another impact piece for the rotation.
If hypothetical starting pitching additions have several years of affordable team control, even better. As Trevor Bauer, a free agent, would likely require a massive financial commitment, and no other starter available just for money seems to move the needle much for the Bombers, the trade market is a nice fallback option.
Now that all those pieces have found new homes, Kyle Hendricks could represent a nice target if the Cubs decide to sell, as Joshua Diemert points out. However, if the Yankees want a very good young pitcher with his best days ahead of him, they should look west, to Colorado.
Germán Marquez is the name. He would be difficult to acquire, but if Colorado is willing to send him to the Bronx, it could give the Yankees a very solid arm for the long run.
First, let’s examine the performance so far. Marquez has a career ERA of 4.24. You may look at the number and think it is rather pedestrian, but consider the fact that he pitches half of his games in Colorado year in and year out.
The American League East division is no paradise for pitchers, but at least it’s more of a level playing field, so to speak. Marquez has a 5.10 ERA in 293 career frames at home, but the number is a much better 3.51 in 341.1 innings on the road. See the difference?
Additionally, other run-prevention metrics like Marquez more than ERA does. For example, FIP has him at 3.85 for his career, while xFIP, which assumes a pitcher should have allowed a league-average HR/FB (home run per fly ball) rate, has him at 3.61.
Marquez misses bats (9.1 career K/9), is stingy with walks (2.4 BB/9) has elite fastball velocity (95.9 mph in 2020, in the 85th percentile) and throws several good secondary offerings, including a curveball and a slider that both had a whiff rate over 40 percent last season.
The best news is that he will turn just 26 in February, and he signed a 5-year, $43 million extension in April 2019.
Marquez will be paid $7.8M in 2021, $11.3M in 2022, and $15.3M in 2023. Those salaries are a downright steal for a pitcher of his talent, and he has, additionally, a $16 million team option for the 2024 season, with a $2.5M buyout.
Marquez is also very durable: his first full season was 2017, and from that point on, he annually reached at least 160 frames until 2020, when for obvious reasons he wasn’t able to surpass that threshold but was among the league leaders in total innings anyway at 81.2. He ranked second in MLB behind only Lynn’s 84 frames.
Naturally, the long-term contract, the durability, the talent, and the age makes Marquez potentially expensive when it comes to the return package the Rockies could be seeking. They likely want to keep Marquez having locked him in so cheaply for so long, though more failure at the team level in Colorado in the near term could make the club more open to moving their most valuable players.
For the Yankees, it may make sense to keep an eye on his market. They’ve had success poaching talent from Colorado before, Marquez is young enough to dream of him helping anchor a rotation for half a decade, and there’s no excuses to be made about not being able to fit his paltry salary into the budget.
The cost would certainly be steep. We’d have to be talking about several excellent prospects. We just took a look at the high price for Luis Castillo, and since Marquez comes with an even longer contract, his cost could be even greater. It’s not a given that the Yankees have a package that can entice the Rox. But it doesn’t hurt to ask, and it hurts even less to keep an eye on the price if the Rockies continue to struggle and as Marquez inches closer to free agency over the next couple years.