At 39-34, The New York Yankees find themselves in the thick of the American League Eastern Division race, just 1.5 games back from the first place Tampa Bay Rays.
However, there is no denying that their starting rotation could use some help. In addition to the recent poor outings by the team’s co-aces, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the Yankees are yet to find consistency from any of their starting pitchers this season.
In fact, the most consistent starter they have had this year has been Adam Warren, and he will likely be replaced by the recently-activated Ivan Nova. It’s not that Warren deserves to be displaced by Nova, but the other options to be moved (CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi) have their own reasons to be kept in the rotation. Sabathia’s being that he is owed too much money to have a reduced relief role, and Eovaldi’s being that he was traded for as a “work in progress” and taking him out of the rotation would be giving up on a project the Yankees traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to undertake.
So, expecting that Warren does in fact get taken out of the starting rotation, this leaves the team with a rotation of Tanaka, Pineda, Nova, Sabathia, and Eovaldi. At the top, I think it is safe to expect solid outings from Tanaka and Pineda from here on out. Even at the three-spot, Nova has given proof that he is capable of pitching the way he did prior to his surgery with 6.2 innings of shutout baseball vs. the Phillies this past Wednesday.
However, it all goes downhill after those three guys are mentioned. As stated earlier, Eovaldi and Sabathia have been more than disappointing in 2015. Eovaldi has an uninspiring 4.95 ERA and despite the high velocity on his fastball, he still has a pedestrian 6.4 K/9. As for Sabathia, he has a 5.65 ERA and an ERA+ of 70. Just an FYI, the league average for ERA+, which takes into account the pitcher’s home park and the average ERA of his league, is 100, meaning Sabathia is 30 points worse than a league average pitcher.
Obviously, something must be done if the Yankees want to be a real threat for not only the AL East division, but also the World Series.
Approaching is the July 31 trade deadline and there seems to be multiple starting pitchers that the Yankees can target to bolster their staff. The biggest trade chip likely to be on the market is Reds Ace Johnny Cueto, whose price in terms of prospects may be reduced due to his impending free agency.
Thus far in 2015, Cueto has made 13 starts, pitching to a 2.98 ERA and an outstanding ERA+ of 128. There is no doubt that an acquisition of Cueto would help a lot as the Yankees seek to return to postseason baseball, but how much would the Yankees have to give up to get him?
While every conversation with the Yankees is going to begin with top prospects Aaron Judge and Luis Severino, the Yanks should be sure to hold on to them as they are big pieces of the future. After all, Cueto would just be a mere two month rental.
Anthony Castrovince recently inferred that the Reds could ask for 1B Greg Bird and C Gary Sanchez in retrun for Cueto. Other prospects the Bombers could make available include OF Tyler Austin and LHP Ian Clarkin among others.
In my opinion, the Yankees should make everyone in the system available other than Judge and Severino. Cueto is the perfect piece for the Yankees right now, and adding him to the roster would certainly give them better odds for the playoffs as the season progresses.