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Yankees potential trade target: Padres' pitchers

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The Padres are looking to unload the mega contracts attached to James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Should the Yankees be interested?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and things have been quiet around the league. Despite being in first place in the division, the Yankees have room to improve in just about every area, from the rotation to the lineup. Some teams might be looking for a deal that would include the Yankees' top prospects, but it sounds like the Padres are more interested in dumping their big contracts onto any team that is willing. If that's the case, should the Yankees consider trading for James Shields or Craig Kimbrel?

After acquiring Shields and Kimbrel, it looked like the Padres would be in a much better place this season, but they have struggled so far. They recently changed managers, and now they're nine games out of first place in their division and looking to lighten their payroll moving forward. According to Buster Olney, the Yankees have let the league know that they are willing to take on money, and they may be one of the few teams interested in doing so. If the Yankees took on most of what's left on Shields' or Kimbrel's contracts, then they might be able to make a trade that doesn't involve giving up one of the top prospects, like Aaron Judge or Luis Severino.

Arguably, the Yankees' biggest weakness is their rotation.  The potential problem with trading for a starter is that the rotation is already jam-packed, and the Yankees seem hesitant to move anyone to the bullpen. The weakest link has been former ace CC Sabathia. He had his best outing of the year yesterday against the Mariners, but he still has a 5.25 ERA and 4.32 FIP on the season. Shields is known for being a workhorse like Sabathia, but it might be best to avoid his contract, especially considering the fact that he's currently 33-years-old and he's owed $21 million for each of the next three seasons, and has a 2019 team option worth $16 million. He can opt out after the 2016 season, but it's hard to imagine him finding a better contract anywhere else. So far this season, Shields has pitched 121 and one-third innings and has a 3.92 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 1.48 HR/9 and 1.32 WHIP. While his strikeout numbers are way up from his career average (7.81 K/9), he's also walking more batters and giving up more home runs than normal. Shield's home run to fly ball ratio is up to a whopping 18.3% (and equal amount at home and on the road), and Petco Park isn't even that hitter-friendly. The Padres may be able to find a taker for Shields, but it wouldn't be the best idea for the Yankees.

The more interesting idea would be to trade for Craig Kimbrel. Aside from Shields, Kimbrel has one of the biggest contracts on the team, earning $11 million in 2016, $13 million in 2017, and has a 2018 team option worth $13 million. This season he has 25 saves (in 26 chances), along with 13.25 K/9, 3.57 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9 and a 3.06 ERA and 2.41 FIP. The Yankees' bullpen has been excellent, and there isn't any real need for Kimbrel, but a bullpen of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Kimbrel would easily be the best in the league. The only real issue would be determining who would be the closer if the team did acquire Kimbrel, since Miller has been fantastic in the role this season. It would make more sense for the Yankees to focus on an area of need, like the rotation or adding a bat to the lineup, but it couldn't hurt for the Yankees to see what kind of deal the Padres would want.

Should the Yankees trade for Shields or Kimbrel?