Yankees: Trade for a Starter? Not So Fast…But Maybe Next Month
The New York Yankee starting rotation is the quintessential example of the best laid plans going awry. What looked in spring training to be a solid front four and bodies to spare for the fifth spot has become a scramble to make sure a viable starter is sent up every day and the bullpen stays stocked.
The Yankees’ current situation has led many to believe that they need to start thinking about filling the holes from the outside rather than internally. But perhaps Brian Cashman shouldn’t be that hasty. There are a number of reasons why the Yankees should leave well enough alone, at least for now.
- It’s only May. Twenty-one out of the thirty teams in the majors are either .500 or above, or within three games of .500. No first-place team has a lead larger than four and a half games. In other words, pretty much everyone is in a pennant race right now. So at this point there really aren’t any teams who are out of it looking to unload an ace.
The Yankees’ best shot at acquiring a solid arm might be Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs, who just happened to blank them in seven innings Wednesday night and is reportedly getting frustrated with his lack of run support (he’s 0-4 with a 1.62 ERA). The 16-28 Cubs certainly aren’t expected to win any pennants this year. But trying to land him now might mean giving up too much. With so many other teams in contention who might be interested, the Yankees could end up making a mistake by making too good an offer. If they wait until closer to the deadline, the Cubs may be willing to let him go for less.
- The fill-ins haven’t been half bad. David Phelps, named the first starter sub after Ivan Nova went down, has pitched pretty well as of late: 5 runs in 15.1 innings pitched in his last three starts. Chase Whitley was impressive in his first two starts (one run in nine innings). Vidal Nuno has been the most inconsistent of the three, but has had some encouraging moments, like his strong outing in Los Angeles on May 7. At this point in the season, it’s unlikely that a starter with better numbers than a Phelps or a Nuno would even be available. Why give up other pieces of their team just to get a name?
- Michael Pineda’s situation must be reevaluated before making any moves. Knowing what to expect from Pineda will be key in deciding if a trade should happen. On Wednesday the rehabbing righty threw a 30-pitch bullpen session and appeared comfortable, according to YES.com. Although progressing as expected, he is still probably 2-3 weeks away from a return, and even when he does, no one really knows what to expect. Pineda had been pitching very well prior to the pine tar incident, and it remains to be seen if the ramifications of the episode will affect the young pitcher.
If Pineda comes back strong, the Yankees could deal with having Nuno or Whitley tide them over until CC Sabathia comes back. However, if either Pineda experiences a major setback or Sabathia winds up having season-ending knee surgery, then the Yankees need to consider shopping around.
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