As the New York Yankees close in on Sonny Gray, the Minnesota Twins may have an asset that could prepare them for a deep run.
The New York Yankees are clear-cut favorites to land Oakland Athletics’ starting pitcher Sonny Gray, but another move with a key seller may be a crucial deal in establishing the Bombers as legitimate contenders.
In addition to Gray, general manager Brian Cashman is still considering other moves, according to sources within the Yankees’ system. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the team is “deep into discussions” with the Minnesota Twins on a deal that could send Jaime Garcia to the Bronx.
Both reports line up and they do with reason. Garcia, who was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Twins on July 24 just to find himself back on the block, wouldn’t be thrown into a rotation that will likely look like Gray, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery. Instead, it is likely that the Yankees employ him as a long reliever and a much-needed southpaw out of the bullpen for the time being.
That is until the inevitable innings limit that is looming for Severino and Montgomery finally rears its ugly head.
Severino has already registered 127.2 innings of work in 2017 — already surpassing the total of 113 innings pitched as a starter in 2014. The story less-severe with Montgomery, who is on pace to finish with 193 innings pitched — only 54.2 innings more than his career-high set last season between Double-A and Triple-A.
At some point, management is going to face an issue. Do they shut down Severino, who’s pitching like an ace? Or skip some of his starts with a brief bullpen stint so that the starting pitcher with the fourth-best WAR in major league baseball could be fresh for the postseason?
Manager Joe Girardi hasn’t discussed a limit yet, but having a light innings cap in mind while monitoring their coveted 22-year-old’s workload throughout August is the smart way to go. Instead of turning to Caleb Smith (7.71 ERA in two starts) or Luis Cessa (6.23 ERA in four starts) for spot starts dedicated toward giving Severino rest, Jaime Garcia could be that guy.
Over 19 starts this season, the southpaw has gone 5-7 with a 4.29 ERA and a FIP of 4.04. The 31-year-old won’t blow hitters away (6.9 K/9), though he can eat innings in the bullpen or be utilized as a lefty specialist (.641 OPS vs LHB in 2017) while also being your best option when keeping your rotation well-equipped (or fresh) for a run at the commissioner’s trophy.
That’s what the purpose of a Garcia-to-the-Bronx trade would be. It’s not a move that would happen instead of Gray, but a move that would be in addition to Gray. It serves as an invaluable avenue to pursue especially if the Yankees don’t want to pull a 2012 Nationals and hold Severino out of the postseason due to an innings cap.
After all, having a rotation consisting of Gray, a fresh Severino, Tanaka and Sabathia to give the ball to a bullpen that features Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman sure is a scary thought. It might even be enough for them to have a legitimate run at the Amercian League pennant.