Since the offseason began, there has been lots of speculation as to how Yankees general manager Brian Cashman planned to fortify the team’s starting rotation. With the Yankees remaining relatively silent on the subject of Masahiro Tanaka, that rotation was beginning to look mighty thin. Then, last Friday concluded with news of Corey Kluber heading to the Bronx, and on Sunday, the Yankees traded for Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon in exchange for four prospects: right-handed pitcher Miguel Yajure, right-handed pitcher Roansy Contreras, infielder Maikel Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith.
The Yankees add another arm to their rotation.— Cut4 (@Cut4) January 24, 2021
Welcome to the Bronx, Jameson. pic.twitter.com/NXJyoSGzox
In adding Taillon’s $2.5 million salary to the payroll, the Yankees have found a cheap way to fill out their rotation without exceeding the luxury tax threshold. At 29-years-old, Taillon has a lot of upside, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, though he’s also coming off his second Tommy John surgery since 2014 and didn’t pitch in 2020.
A compelling factor for the Yankees in their push to trade for Jameson Taillon is his $2.25m salary, which keeps them under the CBT threshold. And they are working off strong reviews from Gerrit Cole, a former teammate in PIT who has strongly endorsed the concept.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 24, 2021
In breaking the news of the trade, multiple reporters noted Taillon’s resilience and toughness, as well as his close friendship with Yankees No. 1 starter Gerrit Cole. Among other challenges, Taillon was diagnosed and successfully overcame testicular cancer in 2017, as CBS Sports’ Danny Vietti noted on a timeline of Taillon’s career that he tweeted out.
Can’t begin to describe my excitement for Jameson Taillon.— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 24, 2021
2010: 2nd overall pick
2014: Tommy John surgery
2015: sports hernia
2017: diagnosed with testicular cancer
2019: 2nd Tommy John surgery
He never gave up and now gets an opportunity to pitch for the Yankees. Awesome. pic.twitter.com/YZfbobUogv
Lindsey Adler of The Athletic said a scout informed her that Taillon has streamlined his mechanics and made several adjustments to his windup since his last surgery.
Talked to a scout who noted that Jameson Taillon shortened his arm path during his rehab process and "may be a #2 when it’s all said and done." Also noted that "this guy is a f-ing warrior both on the mound and in life."— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) January 24, 2021
For his part, Taillon came across as very personable in a farewell tweet to the Pirates organization. His description of leaving Pittsburgh as “bittersweet” also suggests Taillon enjoys connecting with fans and his community, and this makes him a great fit for New York.
Bittersweet day for me over here! Trying to process everything- have SO much to say to the city of Pittsburgh and my teammates. Also have SO much to say about this incredible opportunity and to the city/fans in New York. Thanks to everyone that has reached out! More to come soon— Jameson Taillon (@JTaillon50) January 24, 2021
Jameson Taillon to @RobBiertempfel, talking about Gerrit Cole: "We were drafted back-to-back years, we lived together in spring training, we played catch together, we've gone on trips together. Great teammate and one of my absolute best friends."— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) January 24, 2021
Via MLB.com reporter Adam Berry, Bryan Hoch relayed Taillon’s excitement over his potential to make a pitching comeback of sorts. Taillon also seems over the moon to be reuniting with old pal Gerrit Cole in the Yankees starting rotation.
Jameson Taillon on reuniting with Gerrit Cole, per @adamdberry:— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) January 24, 2021
"I told Gerrit, ‘Dude, I want to run it back with you now. I’m at a different place in my life. You’re at a different place in your life. We never got that full chance to do it together.’ We now have that chance."
Considering his injury history and the fact that he hasn’t put together a fully healthy season since 2018, Taillon is far from a sure thing. That said, trading for him cost the Yankees very little, as CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa pointed out.
Taillon is super risky after two TJS but you make that trade eight days a week if you're the Yankees. Not giving up anything they'll miss in the short-term for a potential impact SP. https://t.co/BXuJm7yJSR— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) January 24, 2021
What a comeback story he could be. Welcome to New York, Jameson!