Now that Chris Capuano has been ruled out to begin the season in the starting rotation, the Yankees are in need of another starting pitcher. They have internal options like Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley, Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren, and Scott Baker, but each of them come with their own downside and none are a clear better choice over the others. This would be the time for the Yankees to explore a trade for a pitcher who could actually take over the fifth spot in the rotation over everyone else on the roster.
One team that makes perfect sense as a trade partner is the New York Mets. The Mets have more starting pitchers than they know what to do with, even after losing Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery; Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard are all in consideration for rotation spots this year. It was recently announced that Josh Edgin, their expected lefty option out of the bullpen will undergo Tommy John surgery, leaving the Mets with a serious need for a left-handed specialist. They could turn to 33-year-old Scott Rice, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, or internal minor leaguers Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez, however none offer much reliability out of the gate. Now that the free agent market has dried up, the Mets could look to make a trade, possibly moving some of their excess starting pitching for a longterm lefty-handed reliever option. If this is the case, they need look no further than the Yankees.
The two New York teams already got together this offseason when the Yankees bought the contract of Gonzalez Germen back in December, however before that, the last real trade they made occurred in 2004 when Felix Heredia was sent to Queens in order to secure a reunion with Mike Stanton. The two franchises used to trade every few years, but now it seems nearly impossible to see the two sides coming together for a deal. The 2014 season saw the Yankees and Red Sox agree on a trade for the first time since 1997, so if two bitter rivals from the same division can agree to terms, it can't be too hard for a trade like this to at least be considered.
The Yankees have what the Mets, and likely many other teams, need–left-handed relievers. They traded Francisco Cervelli and Manny Banuelos to acquire Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve and they also have internal options Jacob Lindgren and Tyler Webb. It would seem that if the Yankees need a starter and the Mets need a left-handed reliever, the two sides should be able to work out an agreement that could send one of these pitchers (as part of a package) for either Jon Niese or Dillon Gee. While the younger Mets pitchers are obviously more desirable, a lefty in the bullpen isn't going to nab any of them.
The 28-year-old Niese is coming off a league-average season where he pitched over 180 innings with a 3.40 ERA and 3.67 FIP. After signing a contract extension with the Mets, he's owed $16 million over the next two years and has another $21 million coming to him in two option years that he can be bought out of. It would seem that the Mets could use some relief from his contract and wouldn't really need much more than a solid MLB option and a complimentary piece. Meanwhile, Gee is going into his age-29 season after a down year where he pitched to a 4.00 ERA and 4.52 FIP in 130+ innings. He will be owed $5.3 million in arbitration this year and won't be a free agent until 2017. Gee wouldn't be much more than an innings eater, so he likely won't cost much in the end. It's pretty clear that he wouldn't be one of their five best pitchers, however, Gee has already gone on record saying he would be unhappy with a relief role, so he could be the easier pitcher to acquire.
Out of the Yankees' pieces, Wilson is likely already pegged for a major league role and the Yankees should try to hold onto Lindgren, but Shreve and Webb could be considered movable. Shreve doesn't immediately have a roster spot locked up, while Webb is probably the guy they will miss the least with multiple young relievers working their way up the minor league system. Neither side will be giving up something that is irreplaceable, so they shouldn't be afraid to pull the trigger to get what they need. It's so rare that teams can match up for a trade this early on in spring training, so both sides need to explore such a deal so they can put their minds at ease.