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Yankees potential trade target: Jack Flaherty

Jack Flaherty could be a good insurance plan for the Yankees.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Hitting is the priority for the Yankees right now as we head toward the trade deadline, but looking at the St. Louis Cardinals, a prominent team with real talent that they’re looking to sell, one particular name stands out as an intriguing pitching add. At this point in the season, the Cards just need to move impending free agents, and they have some hurlers that will be testing the market a few months from now.

Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty is in the middle of his walk year with the Cardinals. With extension negotiations that soured in past campaigns, and a very murky market value due to a long history of injuries, a return to St. Louis isn’t exactly likely. Flaherty came into the season having thrown roughly 100 innings in the past two campaigns and looking to reestablish value, by not only remaining healthy but also reverting to the highs he showed early in his career.

In 2019, Flaherty pitched a full season with a sub-1.00 WHIP, and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting in the National League. So far in 2023, Flaherty has been able to stay on the field, which was step one, but the results haven’t been great, although a recent solid run may boost his value a bit.

Flaherty boasts a 4.39 ERA across 19 starts, though that number could be worse, with the right-hander carrying a WHIP above 1.50. The start to his season was disappointing, but Flaherty might be turning a corner as of late. Across his last four starts since a blowup outing against the Washington Nationals, Flaherty has pitched 24.2 innings, allowing only seven runs. Overall, the outlooks isn’t bad. FanGraphs’ depth charts projections peg him for a 3.84 ERA and 4.31 FIP, and while those numbers aren’t elite, they’re competent and befitting a fine mid-roration arm.

The right-hander still has a bit of potential, though he isn’t exactly the most appealing option on the market. A potential pursuit of Flaherty would speak a lot about the Yankees’ expectations surrounding Nestor Cortes, and his return, as well as their expectations for Luis Severino. With Carlos Rodón and Severino both healthy and Cortes expected to be back in early August, there isn’t a rather realistic path for the Yankees to pursue a starter. If the Yankees end up in the pitching market, it could indicate they aren’t confident about one of their starters health, or that they feel one of their arms could be ticketed for the bullpen.

Even if the Yankees do feel confident about the pitchers on staff, they should still keep an eye on the pitching market. As the old adage goes, one can never have enough pitching depth, and the team should at least have a contingency plan in case pitching becomes a larger need between now and the deadline.

Needing to also look for upgrades on the hitting side of things, Flaherty could be one of the better plays to improve the depth of the staff simply because his price might not be too high, leaving capital left over for other lineup moves. He’s a veteran who can provide innings, with just a couple months ahead of free agency, meaning he could fit nicely as a part of a larger deadline strategy.

As things currently stand, a trade for Flaherty or any other middle-of-the-rotation arm isn’t particularly high up the priority list for the Yankees front office. However, understanding the injury history of its staff beyond Gerrit Cole, it’d be foolish not to have preliminary conversations with some of these names on the market. Flaherty, as an upside name without the high-end cost, should be one of the names the Yankees at least inquire about.