Where Do The Yankees Look To Fill Out Their Pitching Staff?

Talks with the Pirates have cooled, so who might be the final piece to the rotation?

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Fake news broke on Wednesday afternoon that Gerrit Cole was traded to the Houston Astros. Cole is still in Pittsburgh but the Yankees have ended discussions for the right-hander. It may just be a game of chicken between the two teams as the Yankees were in deep discussions with the Pirates several times this off-season. It also seemed like they were close to a deal several times. Clint Frazier and Chance Adams were agreed upon but Pittsburgh wanted one more final piece (Andujar perhaps). The two teams haven’t come to an agreement, yet.

With Cole out of the picture for now, the Yankees rotation looks like this:

Luis Severino
Sonny Gray
Masahiro Tanaka
CC Sabathia
Jordan Montgomery

There are three ways the Yankees can look to improve their rotation:

Internally
The Yankees have several other young pitchers who will go into Spring Training with hopes of making the rotation.

Last year, Jordan Montgomery went from extreme long shot to breaking camp with the team and staying in the rotation for a majority of the season. We saw who Montgomery is last year. He proved to be ready for the big leagues but has some flaws. He does not go deep into games, only averaging 5 1/3 innings per start. If he can improve on that, along with lowering the number of home runs given up (21), he might stay in the rotation. But as of now, he is not locked into the 2018 rotation.

Chad Green will go into Spring Training as a starter but I do not think it is long before the Yankees send him back to the bullpen. He was absolutely dominant last year and should become a staple in the Yankees bullpen for years to come. Having a dominant back end is so important in today’s game so New York shouldn’t mess with it.

Chance Adams’ name was thrown into the Gerrit Cole rumors. His numbers looked great (2.45 ERA over 27 starts) but his fastball isn’t exciting and many scouts think he will get beat up in the majors and be forced into the bullpen. If he isn’t moved in the next month, he will be given a shot at the rotation but it is unlikely he will be the 5th starter for New York in 2018.

Justus Sheffield is currently rated lower than Chance Adams but he is the Yankees’ top pitching prospect. He was named to the All- Star team in the Arizona Fall League this year. The Yankees won’t rush him so expect him to start his age-21 season at Triple A. However, he could be a mid season spark plug if he continues to grow.

If the Yankees stay internally, expect Montgomery to win the Spring Training battle just like he did last season.

Free Agency
The past few seasons, the Yankees have been very quiet in free agency. So far this year, all MLB teams have been quiet. This could lead to prices dropping for the big name free agents, which is what would need to happen in order for the Yankees to be involved. The ultimate goal is get under the luxury tax so GM Brian Cashman will not give out big contracts without shedding salary, making these options even harder. But Cashman has proven to be a wizard so you never know what might happen.

Yu Darvish is the best pitcher on the market and should cash in on the biggest contract given to a pitcher this off-season. It just hasn’t happened yet and that is good news for New York. Darvish himself acknowledges the Yankees are on his short list.

Darvish will get more money elsewhere, but he may take a discount to come to New York. There is a very low chance of this happening, but until Darvish tells us he signed with another team, the Evil Empire will be lurking to swoop the best pitcher on the market.

Alex Cobb has been linked to New York a few times in trade rumors the past few years. 2017 was his first full year back from Tommy John and he showed he can still perform at the level before his injury. He turned down a 3 year/$42 million dollar deal from the Cubs in hopes of a bigger offer. The Yankees won’t be going above that number so we can effectively cross Cobb off the list.

Jake Arrieta wants a mega six year deal so he won’t be coming to the Bronx. The top free agents are out of their price range, but the Yankees could go for a smaller fish on a one year prove-it deal. Some names to watch as we get closer to Spring Training are Lance Lynn, Mat Latos, and Brett Anderson.

Trade
The most likely scenario to see a new face in the New York rotation will be the trade market.

Enough has been said about Gerrit Cole and the connection to New York. This appears to be on hold for the time being. If the Pirates hold on to Cole until the trade deadline, expect the Yankees to offer a similar package for him and the Pirates to accept, knowing they are losing value every day that passes with Cole still in Pittsburgh.

Michael Fulmer’s name came up early in the off-season and it would be smart for the Tigers to move their young flamethrower. However, Detroit has said publicly they are not interested in moving him. Cashman has a few untouchables in the minors (Torres, Florial, Sheffield); Detroit will definitely require at least one to be in any deal. Fulmer is only 24 and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2019, so he fits the Yankees’ model of young controllable starting pitching. Down the road, if the injuries pile up and New York panics, a move for Fulmer might be on the table to save the 2018 season. For now, Fulmer doesn’t look likely to end up in New York.

Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks has also been linked with the Yankees. He only has one year left before free agency, but he could be part of a bigger deal between the two teams. Corbin is a ground ball pitcher and could fit in nicely at Yankee Stadium. There has been little momentum since the rumor started in early December but that doesn’t mean something can’t happen. The Yankees also really like Brandon Drury, who would fill their hole at third baseman.

The Yankees are looking for low cost pitchers to add to the team. The main reason being that moving Jacoby Ellsbury has proven to be impossible. Arizona is a team that he may waive his no trade clause for, but it doesn’t fully make sense for the DBacks to trade for Ellsbury. So while this article is all about pitching, Ellsbury might be the most important piece to help fill their rotation wishes.

If they can move him it would increase the odds of a Darvish/Cobb signing or the Yankees’ willingness to make a trade for a veteran pitcher with a higher salary.

As of now, the young kids will have a shot in Spring Training and the Yankees will be on the lookout later during the deadline for rotation help if needed.


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