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Yankees could still improve starting pitching depth via trade

The Yankees could strike a deal with the Padres or Indians to improve their starting pitching depth.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

If the 2016 season started today, the Yankees rotation would likely consist of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. The Yankees have made a number of moves to improve the team over the offseason so far, including trades for Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks, and Aroldis Chapman, yet the rotation has remained untouched.

Last year's staff spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list, which in turn forced the Yankees to rely on the likes of Adam Warren, Ivan Nova, Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell. The Yankees no longer have the depth that they had last year since Warren was traded, Capuano is both mediocre and a free agent, and Nova and Mitchell were both wildly inconsistent. Brian Cashman has been adamant that the Yankees won't sign any free agents, so if the Yankees hope to improve the rotation or their starting pitching depth, it will likely be via trade. Here's a look at some of the teams who are rumored to have starting pitchers on the trade block.

San Diego Padres

When the Padres brought in big names like James Shields and Craig Kimbrel last year, they hoped to be contenders. Instead, they finished the season in fourth place in the NL West and now they're looking to unload some large contracts. They already moved Kimbrel to the Red Sox, and they're rumored to be interested in trading several of their starting pitchers as well. Shields is due $21 million per year for the next three years, and has a 2019 team option worth $16 million. The 34-year-old also has the ability to opt out of the contract after the 2016 season. Shields is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career having posted a 3.91 ERA and 4.45 FIP. Notably, his walk and home run rates jumped up to 3.60 BB/9 and 1.47 HR/9, well above his career averages.

In addition to Shields, the Padres are willing to listen to trades for Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner as well. At just 28-years-old, Ross is the best pitcher on the Padres' staff and their asking price would undoubtedly be steep. He was worth 4.4 fWAR last season with 9.73 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 0.41 HR/9 and a 3.26 ERA. Ross is under team control through 2017. As for Cashner, he's coming off of a fairly poor season. His strikeout percentage of 20.5% was above his career average, but he walked more batters, gave up more home runs, and saw his ERA jump from 2.55 in 2014 all the way up to 4.34. Cashner will become a free agent after the 2016 season.

The Yankees and Padres do have a history of making a number of trades recently, but the Padres are most interested in acquiring a shortstop, and the Yankees can't really help them there unless San Diego is willing to wait for Jorge Mateo to develop. The Yankees would probably be reluctant to take on Shields' salary, and the asking price of Ross would likely be too high now that the Yankees want to keep Andrew Miller along with their top prospects. Cashner could be interesting, since he's coming off of a down season and is just one year away from free agency.

Cleveland Indians

There is some skepticism that the Indians will actually move one of their starters, but they are rumored to have discussed a trade with the Cubs that would have sent over either Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar. Trevor Bauer's name has also floated around, though it's unlikely that the Indians will depart with ace Corey Kluber. Last season, Carrasco had a strikeout percentage of 29.6%, walked just 2.11 batters per nine innings pitched, and maintained a 3.63 ERA and 2.84 FIP. He signed a contract extension at the start of 2015 worth $22 million over four years with two option years.

Salazar, soon to be 26, posted a 1.13 WHIP, 9.49 K/9 and 3.45 ERA in 2015. He has pitched consistently well over the last two seasons and he won't even be arbitration eligible until 2017. Bauer is the other youngster on the Indians' staff. His strikeout numbers are decent (8.69 K/9 lifetime), but he walked 10.6% of the batters he faced last season and has been unable to get his ERA and FIP to dip below 4.00 over the past two seasons. Like Salazar, Bauer won't be arbitration eligible until 2017.

The Indians have the benefit of having several young starters on their staff, and are believed to be looking to add an outfielder. Since the Yankees have been dangling Brett Gardner on a string, the two teams could strike a mutually beneficial deal. However, the Indians asking price is said to be high, and they would likely want more than one piece in exchange for Carrasco or Salazar, especially if it's just Gardner.

Do you think the Yankees should try to strike a deal with the Padres or Indians? Who would you part with in order to add another starting pitcher to the Yankees' staff?