With the season officially over and the offseason upon us, the Yankees should waste no time looking for starting pitching. Beyond Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, the team is pretty unsure of its rotation.
The Yankees will have Luis Severino, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Cessa (and maybe Adam Warren or Jordan Montgomery) competing for spots, but none of them are a sure thing. While it seems like the Yankees will look to add another high-end starter to pair with Tanaka, they could take a shot on a pitcher or two who doesn’t cost too much to acquire.
In recent seasons, the Yankees have taken chances on players who aren’t considered prospects anymore, aren’t being paid a lot, and wouldn’t cost a ton of minor league talent. Two pitchers that meet this criteria are James Paxton (Seattle) and Patrick Corbin (Arizona.)
James Paxton (2016 Season: 121 IP, 3.79 ERA, 2.80 FIP)
Paxton is about to turn 28 years old but he has only pitched 286 innings total at the major league level. He’s not a true buy-low candidate because he actually had a pretty good season in 2016. Still, it doesn’t seem impossible that Seattle might look to trade him this offseason, as he’s also missed time due to injuries in each of the past few seasons.
Paxton’s HR/FB was 8.2%, which should play well in Yankee Stadium. Last year, the Yankee even considered swapping Brett Gardner for Paxton, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that the teams might revisit the deal now, or some variation anyway. Brian Cashman has been persistent about acquiring players in the past, and he seems to often end up with his man, one way or another.
Patrick Corbin (2016 Season: 155.2 IP, 5.15 ERA, 4.84 FIP)
Corbin will be 27 this season. The upstate New York native burst into the majors in 2013 with a 3.41 ERA in 208.1 IP, good enough for an All-Star appearance. Because baseball can be cruel, Corbin missed the entire 2014 season after needing Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and pitched well in a short season. Despite the bad ERA, Corbin had a successful season in 2016 because he stayed healthy.
Both Corbin and Paxton had really high BABIPs this season, which is generally hard for a pitcher to control, so fans can expect those to come back closer to league average in 2017. Those results could very well have tarnished their final lines Corbin had a sky-high 18.3% HR/FB ratio, which would normally not play well in Yankee Stadium. In his breakout season, however, the ratio was only 10.1% though, so his team could reasonably expect him to keep the ball in the park more next season.
Furthermore, neither pitcher is owed much money, so they wouldn’t be high risk acquisitions. I won’t guess at what it would take to acquire either pitcher, but it’s safe to say that the Yankees wouldn’t give up any of their top prospects for them. Both the Diamondbacks and Mariners have also been frequent trade partners with Brian Cashman the past few years, though Arizona is sadly under new management in former Boston GM Mike Hazen.
While most Yankees fans are hoping that they make a run at a top-end starter, there is a chance that the team will just hope for their young prospects to take a step forward and fill out the roster with low-risk, low-cost players. If they take this approach, Paxton and Corbin are two players that they will most likely consider.