The MLB Trade Deadline hits at 4pm ET today, and while the Yankees have done some good work in adding big bats Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, they don’t look like a finished product just yet. I really enjoy Nestor Cortes Jr., but few teams can simultaneously have Cortes in their starting rotation and look like a finished product at the same time. Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon have pitched better than expected recently, and Domingo Germán finished his last start six outs shy of a no-hitter.
Yet despite that potential, it’s hard to have a ton of confidence in the rotation as it currently stands. It doesn’t really matter that Corey Kluber and Luis Severino are on the comeback trail — the 2021 Yankees don’t have time to squander more starts and need to win every game they possibly can.
The answer might very well be Twins starter José Berríos, and according to Mark Feinsand and Joel Sherman, the Yankees have talked to Minnesota about him:
Count the Yankees, Rays and Mariners among the suitors for Jose Berríos, per sources. They join the Padres, Blue Jays and Mets as interested teams, as Berríos is expected to be moved before the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 30, 2021
Lots of suitors for Berrios and the #Yankees are at least lurking on him. They have yet to touch best pitching prospects such as Gil, Medina, Schmidt in any deals. Would they in this scenario?— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 30, 2021
Berríos has been one of the few bright spots for the Twins in 2021. He has a 3.48 ERA (79 ERA-), 3.57 FIP (85 FIP-), and 1.04 WHIP in 20 starts, 121.2 innings of work. The 27-year-old righty doesn’t walk many batters (2.4 BB/9), strikes out more than a batter per nine (9.3 K/9), and uses a four-pitch mix to generate one of the highest chase rates in the game (83rd percentile).
The most alluring part about Berríos is the same aspect that made Gallo in particular such a smart move: he’s under team control through the end of 2022, as well. So even if this last-ditch scramble of a run for the 2021 group goes nowhere, the Yankees will have a whole fresh season of Berríos to enjoy next year.
Of course, it is for that exact reason why Berríos will not be as comparatively cheap as Rizzo. In fact, there’s a solid chance that he could cost more than Gallo since the Twins have a much better chance of contending in 2022 than the Rangers did. Despite currently occupying last place in the AL Central, their organization is in a better position than Texas.
People I'm talking to are definitely expecting Craig Kimbrel to be dealt today. Less clear whether Jose Berrios moves. Sounds like asking price is super high there.— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 30, 2021
Experts considered Minnesota to be firmly in the AL Central hunt in 2021, and while the campaign has been a nightmare, the idea of the two-time defending division champions returning to form next year with Berríos in tow is far from inconceivable. So while they’re listening to offers, they could reasonably keep him, too.
Of course shortly after I typed that, the latest reports as of 12:15pm ET now indicate that Berríos will, in fact, move:
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays are the leading favorite to get Berríos after being unable to land Max Scherzer. They really need pitching help beyond Hyun Jin Ryu, so they may meet the Twins’ demands.
As Baseball America’s Josh Norris notes, the Yankees still plenty of prospect depth to deploy, especially in the pitching department. For a guy as steady as Berríos, who can also help the team in 2022, it’s something the team should seriously consider.
The Yankees have already dealt one from one strength (middle infielders) to acquire Holmes and Gallo and began to tap into their other strength (righthanders) by spinning Vizcaino for Rizzo. There's plenty more in the RHP pipeline, as Joel mentions. https://t.co/Mh6Ab3L8Ar— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) July 30, 2021
We’ll keep you posted as the deadline approaches.
Martin is @MLBPipeline's No. 16 overall prospect in @MLB, while Woods-Richardson is No. 68. Great return for the Twins, while the Blue Jays get the starter they so desperately needed - and he's under control for 2022, as well. https://t.co/RJCuY32kNd— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 30, 2021
Welp, so much for that. Berríos is going to Toronto for quite a hefty pair of prospects. Make your own judgments about whether or not you would’ve wanted to see the Yankees meet a similar ask for Berríos.