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Yankees potential trade target: Mat Latos

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Mat Latos is just two years removed from being one of the best pitchers in the majors, and he's only signed through the end of the year. Could he be just the the arm the Yankees have been looking for to bolster their rotation?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline just a week away, time is running out if the Yankees want to make a move.  Sure, they're currently leading the AL East and playing some of their best baseball of the year, but they're definitely not a juggernaut.  Even an incremental upgrade could be the difference between winning the division and falling to the Wild Card or - gasp - not making the playoffs at all.  Trading for Miami Marlins pitcher Mat Latos just might be the incremental move the Yankees should make.

We all know you can never have too much depth or too much pitching, and adding Latos to a rotation that already has some injury concerns would give the Yankees some much needed margin for error.  Besides, Latos is just a couple years removed from being one of the league's best pitchers.  With the Reds in 2013, Latos pitched to the tune of a 3.16 ERA, a 3.10 FIP, and a 4.8 fWAR in over 210 innings.  When all was said and done, he was one of the ten most valuable pitchers in the entire league, coming in behind names like Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and in front of Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.

Since then, though, Latos hasn't been quite as impressive, although that isn't to say he's been bad by any stretch of the imagination.  Last year he dealt with torn cartilage in his left knee which required surgery during spring training.  He came back in mid-June, but he had some setbacks during the season and eventually was placed on the disabled list for good when he suffered a bone bruise to his right elbow.  Still, in his 16 starts Latos managed a 3.65 FIP over 102.1 innings.

The Reds traded Latos to Miami in the offseason, and with his new team, Latos has been solid, if not stellar.  This season, he's posted an 8.09 K/9 ratio, a 4.48 ERA, but a 3.32 FIP.  He's continued to avoid the long ball, giving up home runs on just 8.9% of fly balls, and his ERA-FIP discrepancy suggests he's been a bit unlucky so far, especially since the rest of his stats are all in line with their career averages.  His luck seems to be turning around already - since the beginning of June, Latos has a 2.72 ERA and 3.21 FIP.  With 1.3 fWAR accrued so far, he's been more valuable than CC Sabathia and even Masahiro Tanaka (in a similar amount of innings, no less).    If the Yankees are willing to move Sabathia to the bullpen, plugging Latos into the rotation would improve the Yankees staff and give them even more depth out of an already loaded bullpen.

With him signed just through the rest of 2015, he shouldn't cost too much in terms of prospects.  There should be absolutely no way Latos nets the Marlins Aaron Judge or Luis Severino (or even Greg Bird).  Gary Sanchez and some other, lesser prospects might do it, but perhaps the Yankees would have to part with Sanchez and another top-10 youngster.  For an incremental bump like Latos, it just might be worth it, as this move would give the Yankees both a skilled and deep rotation that should be capable of making a deep playoff run.