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Yankees potential trade target: Germán Márquez

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If the Yankees want a pitcher, Márquez could be the best available option.

91st MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, Germán Márquez entered in the top of the fourth inning of the All-Star Game located at his home ballpark. With Rafael Devers, Marcus Semien, and Salvador Perez due up, Márquez retired the side in order. Before striking out Salvy, Devers and Semien, each beat one of Márquez’s fastballs into the dirt for easy putouts. In the uneventful frame, Márquez got a chance to showcase the elite stuff that earned him his first All-Star Game appearance.

As the only qualified starting pitcher on his staff with a winning record, Márquez represented the Rockies’ only legitimate starting pitching candidate for the National League All-Star team. Quietly, and especially for someone who has to throw half of his starts at the third-most hitter-friendly park in baseball, Márquez has had an excellent first half of the season. By fWAR, he’s been the ninth-best starting pitcher in baseball ahead of mainstays like Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, and Max Scherzer and rising stars like Freddy Peralta and Walker Buehler.

By combining awesome durability and stellar stuff, Márquez has been one of the most reliably valuable pitchers in recent seasons despite his under-the-radar personage. Last season, he led the majors in innings and batters faced and is again in the top ten this season. Also, his solid 3.36 ERA looks even better when adjusting for park factors, as he’s been more than a third better than the major league average according to his 20th-best 136 ERA+.

Márquez has learned to work around the contextual limitations of his home ballpark and low-spinning fastball. By relocating it often at the bottom of the zone and increasing the combined usage of his superpowered curveball-slider combo, Marquez has navigated a tricky situation with a level of ease rarely seen.

Márquez is already signed to a deal that keeps him under contract for the following two seasons with one more under a team option. This season, he will earn just $7.8 million, but that number climbs up to $11.3, then $15.3, and $16.0 million in 2024, his team option year. Still just 26 years old, an average annual price of less than $15 million is a bargain for a proven, elite pitcher easily on the right side of 30. For comparison, the Yankees paid a now-35-year-old Corey Kluber $11 million for this season alone.

If the Rockies do in fact decide to sell off their assets at the deadline, Márquez is likely to be the second-most sought-after name following that of their franchise shortstop, Trevor Story. In that case, he’ll likely command a return of a handful of prospects. As currently constructed, the Yankees very well may not have space under the salary cap (without including money in a trade) or the prospects to net such a solid pitcher at the deadline.

Also, cashing in on a pitcher like Márquez would almost certainly preclude them from adding an All-Star level bat like Ketel Marte or Joey Gallo as well, a pair of players that would help address the Yankees’ glaring holes in the bottom-third of their lineup. Further, although their relative abilities to contribute to winning baseball upon their return are still in question, the Yankees have pitching reinforcements in Kluber and Luis Severino hypothetically close to returning. Though Kluber is eligible to return as soon as July 25, the team has yet to announce when he might begin throwing off a mound, and a September return, if at all, seems most likely. Sevy could come back next month so long as he’s not set back again, as he was with his groin strain in June.

If the Yankees decide to go all-in on pitching, Germán Márquez would provide a great long-term boon to the staff. However, doing so might not represent the wisest course of action with multiple leaks to plug.