The New York Yankees aren’t comfortable with their current rotation, but there are options they can pursue that won’t cost a pair of top prospects.
Sonny Gray is easily the hottest name on the market and the New York Yankees are one of the strongest bids to acquire his services by 4:00 p.m. on July 31.
The cost, however, won’t be cheap.
Some reports have the Oakland A’s locked in on young outfield prospect Estovan Florial. MLB Pipeline has Florial listed as the Yankees’ No. 5 overall prospect and No. 90 across the game. Baseball America has Florial at No. 71 in the league.
Parting with Florial as a headliner in a package for a rotation arm with team control is a no-brainer. However, when the reports have the A’s wanting No. 8 prospect Jorge Mateo as well, that’s just not something you do if you’re in the Yankees’ shoes — especially when better options are coming your way in the offseason for only cash.
With that, there are other options general manager Brian Cashman can pursue. Sure, they may not be on the same level as Sonny Gray talent wise, but the asking price will be much lower.
The new and improved bullpen will be enough to carry New York into the postseason, so adding one of these arms to the back-end of a rotation that ranks ninth in Major League baseball in ERA (4.13) will still give them an even better shot without costing two Top-10 prospects:
2017 Season: 5-8, 3.64 ERA, 1.394 WHIP
The Rangers haven’t put Cashner on the block yet, but if they’re willing to part with Yu Darvish, there’s no reason why the Yankees shouldn’t be able to inquire about Cashner’s availability.
No, he’s no ace by any means, but thanks to the stellar rise of Luis Severino, New York only needs to solidify the back-end of their rotation. Hence, the fit.
Through 16 starts this season, the 30-year-old has posted a 3.64 including an opponent’s slash line of .257/.336/.369. His strikeout rate of 4.5 may strike some as alarming, but his ground-ball rate of 50.5 percent (15th-best in MLB, per FanGraphs) should play well in Yankee Stadium.
Cashner, who’s in his walk-year, would unquestionably cost less than Darvish or Gray and, as mentioned, would be what the Yankees really need: a marginal improvement to the back-end.
2017 Season: 7-6, 3.84 ERA, 1.185 WHIP
The Yankees are clearly interested in adding team control on any names they pursue and Straily is one of the cheaper options they could take a risk on for a cheaper cost.
The 28-year-old owns a 3.84 ERA across 21 starts this season coming off a year in which he made 31 starts for the Reds and went 14-8 with a 3.76 ERA. While his 1.5 HR/9 rate this season may not play well in the Bronx, Straily is under control until 2021 and comes with an effective arsenal.
Straily’s whiff rate on his slider has reached the highest total (17.62 percent) since 2014 (21.70 percent) and his changeup, which comes with natural sink, is posting a ground ball rate 50.82 per BIP. If he can find some consistency with his arsenal, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to stabilize the back-end of the Yankees’ rotation this season.
The question here, however, is if 569 innings across six seasons is worth investing in.
2017 Season: 8-6, 3.21 ERA, 1.102 WHIP
Lynn is likely going to be dealt ahead of July 31’s non-waiver trade deadline as the Cardinals would want more than a mere draft-pick compensation if he departs in free agency. That immediately puts him on New York’s radar.
Over his last four starts, Lynn has pitched at least six innings while not allowing more than one run — including his last start against the Colorado Rockies in which allowed one run over six innings.
All that has sparked an impressive 1.17 ERA and .213/.248/.315 opponent’s slash line in the month of July. Overall, Lynn is Lynn is 8-6 with a 3.21 ERA — the 13th-best among qualified MLB starters.
Given that he’ll become a restricted free agent when the dust settles on 2017 and that this is his first season pitching since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, the Yankees have a shot at improving the rotation without giving up any Top-10s as a headliner.