The Yankees would need an additional starter to solidify their run for a 28th World Series championship. Now, this necessity has become even more urgent.
It was announced Tuesday afternoon that the Yankees’ fifth starter, Jordan Montgomery, would undergo Tommy John surgery after spending significant time on the DL with elbow inflammation. Montgomery, who experienced a strong rookie campaign the year before, was 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA in six starts.
With this news, the Yankees’ thinnest area in terms of depth has become even thinner. New York has options in the trade market and a few intriguing pieces in the minors. That said, these five players may wind up in pinstripes by the end of the season.
1 Madison Bumgarner
How nice would it be to see Madison Bumgarner in pinstripes?
The man is a postseason legend, already considered one of the best playoff pitchers in the game's history. With a combined 8-3 record and a 2.11 ERA, he'd become not only the most experienced postseason pitcher in the Yankees' rotation but also the most successful after having been an integral part of the Giants' dynastic run of three championships in five years.
Now, the Yankees' pursuit of Bumgarner—and the Giants' willingness to trade him—is not set in stone. The Giants are 30-30, but only 1.5 games back from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. If the Giants continue to be in the hunt, they'll hold on to Bumgarner, doubly so if Mad-Bum returns to form.
If the Giants fall out of the race, then expect the Yankees to at least inquire about the southpaw's availability. He'll cost any team a king's ransom. They'll be hard-pressed to maintain under luxury tax a season away from one of the most hyped free agent classes in recent memory. Do they take on Bumgarner's remaining salary for 2018, plus a $12m team option for next year?
2 Justus Sheffield
This isn't a trade option.
The Yankees have had a run of success with promoting position players, and what's next in the ranks are pitching prospects.
Meet Justus Sheffield, the southpaw they acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Andrew Miller trade. Sheffield has been ranked as the third-best left-handed pitcher in baseball. He's had moderate success at Triple-A this year; a 0-2 record with a 3.80 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched.
At 22 years old, it'd be a lot to ask for Sheffield to help stabilize a suddenly shaky pitching rotation. He's got a strong arsenal of a fastball, changeup, and slider to make a three-pitch mix that could rate average to above average. His only knock is he's not refined with his command. In those same 21.1 innings, Sheffield has walked 12 batters and owns a WHIP of 1.27
Sheffield isn't the option to help lead the Yankees through the postseason, but he can help relieve the other neophyte pitcher Domingo German in lessening the blow to the Montgomery injury.
3 Cole Hamels
In an early showcase against the Yankees, Cole Hamels pitched a strong seven innings where he struck out seven and yielded two earned runs.
Hamels has enjoyed a long and successful career that culminated in a World Series championship in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies but in 2009 against the Yankees, he gave up five runs in 4.1 innings. He's not as much as a slam dunk as Bumgarner is in terms of postseason success, but his 3.68 ERA in 98.1 career postseason innings is nothing to scoff at. He's a reliable arm in the big moments, but he's a lesser man's Bumgarner.
And because the Yankees will now be perceived as desperate for pitching help, the Texas Rangers might try to bleed them dry for his services. The Yankees' can't panic in this area; Hamels' contract of $22.5m per year will put them over the tax threshold and at 34 years old, Hamels' price will have to be beneficial to the Yankees' financial situation.
4 Patrick Corbin
This could be the most unlikely scenario considering the Arizona Diamondbacks hold a slim one-game lead in the NL West, but there's already been expressed mutual interest between Corbin and the Yankees. If the Diamondbacks fall out of the race, they might listen to offers for the southpaw who boasts a 2.99 ERA in 75.1 innings.
Now, Corbin is in the last year of his contract. The Yankees' might wait until the offseason to offer a deal; that way they'll be only losing money rather than prospects.
It wouldn't be surprising, however, if it's made known the Yankees make a phone call or two on Corbin's availability. If the Yankees' find themselves neck and neck with the Red Sox nearing the July 31st trade deadline, they might offer a deal that's too good for the D-backs to decline.
5 Other Options
There are a few other names worthy of consideration:
1) JA Happ: The Blue Jays will be cleaning house by the trade deadline. Are they willing to trade Happ and his 4.08 ERA and his 11 K/9 rate to a division rival?
2) Michael Fulmer: It's been a disappointing year for Fulmer, who has a career-worst ERA of 4.73. But at 25 years old and two years removed from beating Gary Sanchez for Rookie of the Year, there is still tremendous upside to the power-arm right-hander.
3) Clayton Kershaw: This is mainly pure shock value but if the Dodgers can't make up for their terrible start and find themselves outside the playoff bubble, are they willing to trade the game's best before Kershaw leaving for free agency? Would the Yankees' be impatient enough to not wait for him in the offseason?
It's too early to determine how the pitching market will shape up. The Yankees have their ace in Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka's postseason showing the year prior has bought him enough time to be trusted with another run. Still, the Yankees need to determine who they can trust after those two names.
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