Long-Time Cardinal Could Make Sense For The New York Yankees 2
Jennifer Buchanan-USATSI

With Jaime Garcia expected to be dealt by St. Louis, the New York Yankees could be in the running for the southpaw to improve the rotation. 

BREAKING NEWS: The New York Yankees could use the addition of a starting pitcher.

Well, maybe not so breaking. It’s been well documented that the rotation that finished the 2016 season 19th in earned run average (4.44) and gave up the third-most home runs (147) needs an impact arm in there for 2017.

That statement rings even truer when you construct what the rotation will look like without any moves made.

You’d have Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and a battle between Luis Severino, Chad Green, and Luis Cessa for the final two spots. Some dark horses like Bryan Mitchell or Adam Warren could be in the running as well, which isn’t particularly reassuring.

Sure, Tanaka maintained the third-best ERA in the American League, Sabathia (3.91 ERA) had his best year since 2012 and Pineda finished the year as AL Leader in K/9 but the unit is cluttered with question marks.

Severino posted an 8.50 ERA as a starter, Cessa yielded 11 home runs in nine starts, and Green had his season cut short due to an elbow injury. And that’s not even mentioning Sabathia is banking on Part 2 of his revival while Pineda needs to overcome becoming one of six players in MLB history to strikeout more than 200 but to maintain an ERA over 4.80.

There are many names being thrown around from free agent options to trades to rising prospects but the honest truth is general manager Brian Cashman will be seeking a deal involving little to no long-term risk.

While there are many arms with low-risk value, Jaime Garcia, who just finished his eighth year with the St. Louis Cardinals, could be the next guy packing his bags for the Bronx.

According to St. Louis Today, the Cardinals have picked up the lefty’s $12 million contract instead of a $500k buyout for the 2017 season. Now, the team looking to bounce back after missing the postseason, have at least seven starters and perhaps an extra one or two as camp begins next February.

Shortly after retaining the starter that finished third in the 2010 Rookie Of The Year voting, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak stated that the move could model a possible trading chip.

A starting pitcher with established success on a one-year commitment with the ability to utilize him as a long man if things don’t work out? Sounds like the ideal candidate for the Yankees interest.

While Garcia’s 4.67 ERA in 2016 was the opposite of pleasant, entering last season, only three lefties in the NL had a better ERA+ than Garcia since 2008 (Madison BumgarnerCole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw).

Plus, last year’s version of Garcia, who has the 11th-lowest HR/9 (0.79) among active lefties, showed signs of pure dominance like his one hit shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he struck out 13 batters.

Side note: last year’s Yankees’ staff failed to toss a complete game for the first time in franchise history.

Garcia also stayed healthy and was able to pitch 171.1 innings but then again, he has dealt with shoulder injuries in the past, threw just 10 quality starts in 30 chances, and his opponent’s OPS (.779 as a starter) was a career-high.

However, it appears that no matter who Cashman brings in, no one will take over as the No. 2 guy in the rotation as selling the farm for a top tier starter is more than dangerous.

Instead, a minor improvement where the asking price won’t be too high with little commitment is ideal for the organization’s mindset.

If you think “improvement” is far-fetched, just take a look at the candidates for the Yankees’ rotation if Garcia is acquired (thanks, FanGraphs):

via FanGraphs

His win probability added (captures the change in Win Expectancy) is third highest among Yankees’ starters while essentially every other category lists him as a third starter for the Bombers.

That and the fact that he’s still a marketable left-hander should nevertheless make Garcia a valuable asset in a league where solid left-handed pitching can be infrequent. All things considered, he should at least gauge some interest from Cashman with a moderately small asking price.