The primary issue for the New York Yankees during this time of immense struggle has been the offense. There’s no denying that fact. With Aaron Judge hurt, the team as a whole looks like a shell of itself, and so do plenty of the individual players in the everyday lineup. They find themselves looking up from the bottom of the AL East, but general manager Brian Cashman, owner Hal Steinbrenner, and manager Aaron Boone all believe that this team can contend with the best teams in baseball. So we continue to explore possible trade deadline additions.
While the offense has been bad, the Yankees could look into shoring up their starting pitching. Gerrit Cole has been the only consistent starter throughout 2023, and their overreliance on the bullpen has led to the previously steady relief corps coughing up ballgames of late when the meager offense actually gives them a lead. Adding Chicago Cubs starter Marcus Stroman could be a possible solution.
Stroman has been involved in talks surrounding the Yankees for years now, and it’s not going to stop considering the year he has had with the Cubs and the rollercoaster year the Yankees rotation has had outside of Gerrit Cole.
At 32 years old and in the second season of his three-year contract, Stroman has pitched quite well while starting 20 games for the North Siders. He pushed himself onto the National League All-Star team thanks to an ERA of 2.88, a FIP of 3.38, an xFIP of 3.69, and an fWAR of 2.6. He’s on pace for one of his best seasons in the fWAR category (his highest is 3.8 when he played for both the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets), setting him up for a nice offseason payday. If Stroman doesn’t get hurt in the coming months, he’ll almost certainly opt out of the $21 million remaining on his current deal and get a better one this offseason.
Stroman has destroyed lots of projections that were made for him this season, and he’s looking to continue that in the second half of the year. The first-half highlight was undoubtedly flirting with a no-hitter back on May 29th against the AL East-leading Rays.
Only a Wander Franco single in the seventh stood between Stroman and history.
There isn’t much velocity in Stroman’s arsenal, but he has thrown six different types of pitches this season: the sinker, slurve, cutter, four-seam, split-finger, and slider. The sinker has been his most-used pitch in 2023 at 45.5 percent followed by the slurve, which has been used almost half the time at 22.8 percent. Stroman’s heater is averaging at 92 MPH, but it sits in the 78th percentile for spin rate, so it’s well above average in that area. He has similar percentile numbers with his fastball to Nestor Cortes.
With the Cubs holding a record of 43-50, finding potential buyers for their players at this year’s trade deadline (Cody Bellinger’s name has been thrown around along with Stroman’s) is of the utmost importance. Even in a weak NL Central, they’re 7.5 games back of the Brewers, and on Tuesday, FanGraphs projected only a 7.8-percent chance of making the playoffs. Unless you’re a true Cubbie diehard, it’s in the team’s best interest to capitalize on one of the best seasons the right-hander has had in his career and get some solid prospects in return, continuing their rebuild.
The real question is whether or not the Yankees feel the need to go out and address their pitching when there are other matters with the roster that need to be attended to. There’s also the matter of general manager Brian Cashman’s dismissive attitude toward Stroman in the past, as he said that the then-Jay wouldn’t “be a difference-maker” when available at the 2021 trade deadline. Cashman acknowledged that there was interest, but not as a starter. Has Stroman done enough in recent years to bolster his perception from New York’s perspective? Regardless, considering their putrid offense and the hungry injury bug, it might not be the worst idea in the world to invest in another player who can keep the five starters in a competitive place.
The likelihood of Stroman coming to The Bronx feels very low considering his history with the Yankees and Cashman. However, it would be a mistake not to at least consider acquiring him, given some of the context around the rest of the team.