WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks on the phone prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Many professional and college sports are canceling or postponing their games due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees need starting pitching and left-handed hitting. They might be looking to the trade market to acquire them.

James Kelly

The New York Yankees are reportedly looking to the trade market to fill some needs. And this rumor is an absolute doozy.

According to Jason Mackey, a Pittsburgh Pirates beat reporter for the Post-Gazette, the Yankees and Pirates have had conversations revolving around Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell.

Bell was a hot trade topic last off-season as well. He got off to an MVP caliber start in 2019 but disappeared in the second half of the season. Yankee fans saw him as a left-handed equivalent to Luke Voit, but thankfully no trade materialized. In 2020, Bell struggled in the shortened season, slashing just .226/.305/.364. The Pirates are most likely looking to trade him to avoid paying his growing contract in his arbitration years. He’s not really a fit for the Yankees, who have Voit and Giancarlo Stanton locking down first and DH.

Taillon is the interesting part of this trade. He’s struggled with injuries since breaking into the league, but has been a solid pitcher when active. In 2018, his last full season, he posted a 3.20 ERA in 191 innings.

The interesting thing about Taillon comes with the Pirates’ history of failing to properly utilize their pitchers. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is a perfect example. Until being traded to the Houston Astros, Cole was underachieving. Houston changed his pitching strategy, emphasizing more four-seam fastballs up in the zone, and Cole turned into the second-best pitcher in baseball.

With analytically minded Matt Blake handling the pitching coach duties for the Yankees, they may be able to get a lot more out of Taillon. And even if they can only match his 2018 production, he’d be a welcomed addition to a Yankees staff without a lot of depth.

Now the flip side of the trade. What’s it going to take to acquire Bell and Taillon?

The Pirates are nowhere close to competing. They finished 19-41 in 2020 with the lowest payroll in baseball. They’re looking for young, controllable talent to continue a rebuild.

For the Yankees, that means parting with either Deivi Garcia or Clarke Schmidt for sure. Garcia and Schmidt are the top two pitchers in the Yankees system and they’re MLB ready right now. Neither one projects to be an ace, but they would be solid additions to any rotation.

Beyond that, the Yankees have some lower-level prospects that could round out the trade. Anyone outside Jasson Dominguez could be on the table. Of course, since the Pirates are mostly looking for payroll relief during rebuilding years, it wouldn’t take a prospect haul to acquire Bell and Taillon.

Obviously, these are just rumors for the time being. Bell is an awkward fit for the Yankees so I wouldn’t count on them giving up assets for him. But Taillon would be a great addition to the rotation. Losing Garcia or Schmidt would be tough for Yankee fans. But if Matt Blake can unlock Taillon’s potential, he, Cole and eventually Severino could make a nice frontline come October.

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU