We've reached the halfway point in the season, and the Yankees have a three and a half game lead in the AL East. The rest of the division has been fairly mediocre up to this point, so even the last place Red Sox are only six and a half games back. As the trade deadline approaches and the Yankees consider their options, they should be focused on improving the rotation. There aren't a whole lot of decent pitchers potentially available to choose from, but the Tigers have been scuffling lately, and they might just be looking to unload a pitcher. Should the Yankees consider trading for David Price?
Considering that Masahiro Tanaka missed several weeks on the disabled list and the fact that CC Sabathia has struggled, the Yankees actually have one of the better rotations in the American League. They're in the top five in terms of strikeouts (7.54 per nine innings), and have the lowest walk rate in the league (2.01 per nine innings), yet their 4.24 ERA and 3.75 FIP indicate that the staff has been somewhat unlucky. There is certainly room for improvement, but that would require moving someone out of the rotation. Of all the starters, Sabathia least deserves to keep his job, but it's difficult to picture the Yankees moving him to the bullpen or releasing him outright. Right before the All-Star break, the Yankees skipped one of Sabathia's starts and it was later revealed that he had to have his knee drained during that time period. Realistically, a stint on the disabled list might be the only way that Sabathia leaves the rotation this season. Even if they moved him to the bullpen, he gives up so many home runs (1.70 per nine innings) that it might not be worth it.
If the Yankees are serious about improving the team, they could do what the Tigers did last season, and trade for David Price in order to make a run in the postseason. Price would be a short-term rental since he's a free agent at the end of the season, but he would certainly shore up the rotation. One of the main arguments for keeping Sabathia in the rotation has been that he's an innings eater, but Price has already pitched 125, which is the fifth most in the majors. He has a 2.38 ERA, 2.84 FIP and has notched 115 strikeouts, good for sixth most in the American League. It's hard to tell if the Tigers are serious about trading Price, but they are nine games back right now, and they've recently lost Miguel Cabrera for at least six weeks with a Grade 3 calf strain. Price is owed $19.8 million this year, so the Yankees might be able to eat a good chunk of that contract and work out some kind of trade package that doesn't involve giving up a top prospect.
Jumping ahead to the possibility of playing in the postseason, the current rotation might need some help in order to get the job done. Sabathia cannot be trusted to pitch in the playoffs, based on his performance the past few seasons. Tanaka and Michael Pineda are both injury concerns, and Nathan Eovaldi has been inconsistent, though better lately, while Ivan Nova falls under both categories. This team will need to make an upgrade to the rotation if they want to make the playoffs, and Price might be the best pitcher out there who could potentially be traded so the Yankees should at least look into his availability.
What kind of deal would you make for David Price? Do you think the rotation could make it through the postseason as it is?