In 2015 it's incredibly difficult to see how the Yankees can possibly improve upon the team they have now. Not because they are the best team out there, but because they have enough long-term pieces and players they seem enamored with that it seems unlikely they will be able to take anyone out of the roles they are in now. This is the issue when it comes to the Yankees improving their starting rotation and yet maybe there's still room for the team to acquire someone like Mike Leake.
Many believe the Yankees should go for broke and acquire any premier talent that could help the team against the weak AL East competition, but that could prove to be very costly in terms of prospects. Acquiring a Ben Zobrist or Johnny Cueto might be the best move available for the Yankees, but are they the right moves? Whatever way you slice it, the Yankees are a mediocre team that is benefitting from a bad division, so a big talent might be able to help them gain a few games over their competition, but how much better will the team really be overall? The talent that is available right now isn't exactly the game-changing type that could suddenly turn the team from a fence-sitter to a world-beater over night, so is it even worth trading for someone–especially a pitcher–who might not save the team, but cost an arm and a leg to acquire?
The best thing the team can do right now is acquire players who can offer incremental upgrades in order to compliment the great seasons Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, and Alex Rodriguez are currently having right now. Someone like Mike Leake, a ground ball pitcher, may be exactly what the Yankees need, even if CC Sabathia just gave the best performance of his season and Ivan Nova already inhabits that backend, ground ball role. The price of Leake shouldn't be anything more than what it cost the Yankees to acquire Chase Headley or Brandon McCarthy last year, making it a worthwhile investment just because it doesn't cost the team much in the way of assets.
While Leake is in the middle of a mediocre campaign with a 3.95 ERA and 4.09 FIP, his 52.8% ground ball rate should be attractive to the Yankees–the same club who turned Brandon McCarthy's season around last year. The Yankees have a proven track record of turning seasons around and the two pitchers have proven to be similar sinker/cutter pitchers. That doesn't necessarily mean the organization will have similar success, but Leake is on pace to be a 2-WAR pitcher and that's better than CC Sabathia (0.9), Ivan Nova (0.2), or Chris Capuano (0.1) have been so far.
If the Yankees think they can help Leake at this point, he could end up being a valuable piece as a ground ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium. Maybe he's no better than Nova going forward, but then again two Novas are better than one, especially if CC isn't going to be able to reproduce his results from Sunday. Leake might not be the best upgrade the team can make, but if he costs some combination of B and C-level prospects, it might actually be the right move to make.