Let’s start this exercise by reporting the facts. The Tampa Bay Rays paid Tyler Glasnow $5.35 million in 2023, but are on the hook for $25 million in 2024, his last season of team control before hitting free agency. The Rays operate unlike nearly any other team in baseball, and very well may find a $25 million outlay, even to a pitcher as talented as Glasnow, as unappetizing.
The solution? Well, they can always trade him. In fact, the expectation around the league is that they will eventually move Glasnow, and he could be a valuable piece for a contender that can’t secure Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Sonny Gray, Blake Snell, and the other top pitchers on this deep (for pitching) free agent market.
That hypothetical team sounds a lot like the Yankees, doesn’t it? In theory, yes: the Yankees want Yamamoto or another good pitcher for their rotation, but if they choose to prioritize offense and fail to bring in a quality arm, a trade for a talented pitcher like Glasnow might be a strong Plan B.
There is one catch, of course: the Yankees and Rays are very unlikely to complete a major trade, and this exercise certainly qualifies as one.
It’s not impossible, though: there aren’t too many teams in baseball with the prospect ammunition, the need for a pitcher, and the financial flexibility to absorb the expensive contract of an injury-prone pitcher. The Yankees are one of them. And for what it’s worth, the two sides have at least struck deals of the minor variety, such as the 2018 trade that brought Brandon Drury to the Bronx.
For obvious reasons, the Rays will probably prefer to deal Glasnow elsewhere before making a direct competitor better. But there is a good chance that if the Yankees want to, they can present Tampa with the best offer for Glasnow.
As a pitcher, Glasnow remains extraordinarily talented, even though he had a major elbow surgery relatively recently. In 2023, he pitched 120 innings and posted a 3.53 ERA with a 2.91 FIP with 37 walks and 162 strikeouts.
He is the type of power arm that might take the Yankees rotation to the next level. He has a career 3.89 ERA, but that includes his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates: he was a mediocre hurler back then. Since he landed in Tampa, a serious organization with top player development skills, his career took off. As a Ray, Glasnow has an excellent 3.20 ERA with 526 strikeouts in 388.1 innings.
Of course, acquiring Glasnow wouldn’t come without risks. The 120 frames he threw this past season represent his career-high, which is not ideal since he is already 30-years-old. Counting on 200 innings would be foolish, and even 150 might be a bit much.
For Glasnow, per-inning efficiency and his sheer ability to strike people out are his calling cards. That might not be ideal, but a responsible, assertive organization would plan around that and make it a strength, with the hope that he could stay healthy enough to provide enough bulk during the regular season to get his team to the playoffs, and have the stuff to dominate once October rolls around.
He showed in 2023 that even though he was returning from significant elbow surgery, his stuff remains as crisp as ever. The curveball, in particular, is one of the prettiest pitches in baseball and had a 51.6 percent whiff rate this past campaign:
Glasnow’s fastball velocity and command were mostly fine, and even if his slider wasn’t at its very best, it still returned a solid 38.2 percent whiff rate.
The Yankees have lots of good prospects to catch the Rays’ attention. It would be a matter, for both parties, of convincing themselves to talk. If the Yankees were willing to take on all or most of Glasnow’s money, it’s even plausible that he could be had for a relatively small prospect return.
As long as the two sides play in the same division, don’t hold your breath until the Rays and Yankees consummate a major trade. That said, if there ever was a deal for the rivals to make, it’d be one such as this, with a pricey and potentially elite talent going New York’s way.