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Yankees Potential Trade Target: Tanner Scott

The Baltimore southpaw is the exact type of reliever who the Yankees usually target.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Most of the trade posts here at PSA veer in the direction of determining whether or not a player is a good fit on the Yankees roster. In addition, said player has usually already proved his value and capabilities in the league. This post will be a bit different than that, mainly because GM Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office have already proven that they have particular types of players who they like to target via trade, especially in recent years.

In this case, that player is Tanner Scott of the Baltimore Orioles. If the Yankees are at the top of the league in anything, it’s developing relievers. It doesn’t matter if they’re homegrown, acquired via trade, or inked to contracts off the scrap heap — trades such as the one for Clay Holmes and the signing of Lucas Luetge prove their acumen. The question here is why does Tanner Scott fall into that category?

Well for starters, there is no doubt that Scott could be had for the right price. This isn’t like Cedric Mullins and John Means, who the Orioles should withhold trading barring a mega offer. Any reliever on any rebuilding team is available, no matter their talent or production. The cost won’t be the issue this time around. I have little doubt that the two sides could match the right players in a deal. My goal here is to sell you, the reader, on the idea of why the Yankees should go out of their way to scoop up a 5.17 ERA reliever from perhaps the worst bullpen in baseball. Trust me.

Despite that 2021 ERA, don’t be fooled; Scott is already a good reliever in his current form. He has an absolute wipeout slider that gets a ton of whiffs. It’s his best pitch and it’s good enough to get thrown half the time.

That slider is also the main reason for Scott’s skill against left-handed hitters. In 2021, they hit just .203 against him and slugged .246. Whatever he is doing against them is working extremely well. Even though he walked lefties at a 17.6-percent rate, he made it up for it with a 32.9-percent strikeout rate and a 2.58 FIP. However, Scott’s key to breaking out against righties and becoming the relief ace he can be lies in his fastball development.

Even with his filthy slider, Scott got tagged against righties this past season for a .405 xwOBA on balls put in play (xwOBACON). Sure, he was good for his fair share of sword-like backfoot sliders, but sometimes, it did not matter all that much. Despite his 98th-percentile spin on his fastball, the pitch is not very effective. He doesn’t have much control over it; hence his 2nd-percentile walk rate, and because of that, he’s not as difficult of an at-bat as he should be.

Perhaps Scott’s lack of feel and control for the pitch is enough to completely scrap it, all in all. It doesn’t have great ride or high active spin, and he doesn’t get too much cut on it either. He’s sort of in fastball purgatory.

This is why I would propose that Scott should develop the sinker that he only threw 31 times in 2021. In the small sample size of video available, it’s clear that Scott doesn’t have a great grasp of the pitch, but the movement profile in the ones he has thrown have been pretty impressive, and with the Yankees’ proven ability to get the most out of a pitcher’s sinker, Scott could be a perfect fit in the Bronx.

A high-spin sinker with above-average deviation between spin-based and observed movement is a pretty great starting point for Matt Blake. To cite Holmes again, Blake has already helped a reliever with control issues and wicked movement. Scott could just be another project with great raw tools waiting to be elevated. The Yankees are in need of another lefty with Britton out for most likely the entire 2022 campaign. Scott could come at a low prospect cost and has the potential to become a lefty weapon with three years of team control.