5 Pitchers the Yankees can target at the trade deadline

It’s pretty much predestination that the Yankees are buyers at each and every trade deadline, due to a mix of their high payroll, scrutinizing press, and general success in the AL East. Generally, the real question is: “What are they trying to buy?” It’s pretty crystal clear this year that a starting pitcher is their target, so I decided to look at the free agent class of 2013 to see whom the Yankees could pry at the deadline for financial relief and/or young talent.

Matt Garza, Cubs: There were talks after Garza’s 2011 breakout that the Cubs would extend the fire baller and make him a cornerstone of their rebuilding project. A little regression and talks of a fire sale in Chicago point to a different conclusion by Epstein and the suits running the Cubs: it’s smarter to play the market and stockpile young talent than it is to build around a near-30 year-old pitcher. Still, though, Garza has plenty of talent and grit. Despite his home run regressing to the mean and more (at 15.8%, it’s both far too high and concerning, what with the aforementioned short porch in right in the Bronx), Garza still has a top-notch strikeout rate and generates a hefty number of ground balls. He’d effectively serve as the Yankees number two, and a playoff rotation of Sabathia, Garza, and Pettitte (if he holds up) could be an effective bunch. He could well land in pinstripes in the midst of his sixth consecutive sub-4.00 ERA season. Chances that he’ll end up in Pinstripes (one to five): four

Edwin Jackson, Nationals: The Yankees have been connected to the fire-baller through various rumors, and one would assume the match would be perfect if and only if the Nationals weren’t competing for a playoff spot. Jackson’s run with some good fortune in Washington – his .244 BABIP is way out of line with his career mark of .307 – but is well on his way to his fourth straight 3.5+ WAR season, a generally unheralded feat. His FIP is a career best 3.32 as a result of his improved strikeout and walk rates, and his 3.78 xFIP is right in line with his previous two marks of 3.71 and 3.73 – meaning his home run rate seems generally sustainable at 7.7 percent. So what you have is an incredibly valuable commodity signed to a one-year deal on an up-and-coming team that’s stockpiling talent and was reportedly looking at the expendable Eduardo Nunez. Seems like a storybook romance. All that’s missing is a Nationals losing streak and a “Let’s play for next year” mindset. Chances that he’ll end up in pinstripes (one to five): two

Brandon McCarthy, A’s: McCarthy is a well above-average pitcher on a non-contender, and despite his regression from last year’s 4.7 WAR performance, he might be the most likely to be wearing a Yankees uniform if the A’s aren’t bent on extending him. But what might hold Cashman & Co. back is McCarthy’s terrifying home/away splits in this year particularly. He has a xFIP of 3.64 and a FIP of 2.83 at home, meaning he limits home runs and walks in particular. His standout 4.14 strikeout to walk ratio at home would also make him a star if it carried over to away starts; it doesn’t, however. He has a FIP of 4.26 and an xFIP of 4.78, mostly due to his 1.64 strikeout to walk ratio. The splits are concerning mostly because they contradict his 2011 performance almost entirely; the difference in home and road xFIP last year was .20, the difference in home and road FIP in 2011 was a mere .16, and he had a 4.5+ strikeout to walk ratio everywhere he went. Luck won’t correct McCarthy’s disturbing trend in all likelihood (his BABIP is only slightly too high on the road and he’s stranding runners at a similar pace in all parks), but the Yankees might be wise to take a gamble if the price isn’t too high. Chances that he’ll end up in pinstripes (one to five): three

Colby Lewis, Rangers: The Rangers have a fat farm system, so selling Colby Lewis in the midst of a playoff run is highly unlikely – especially to a potential ALCS foe in the Yankees. The question of survival with the Yankee stadium fences is also up for debate – he’s posted back-to-back years with above-average home run rates. Chalk this scenario up as nearly impossible. Chances that he’ll end up in pinstripes (one to five): one

Shaun Marcum, Brewers: Marcum fits the same profile as Colby Lewis – power-finesse pitcher with better control than he has stuff. The bulky Brewer prides himself on consistency – his FIP in 2010 was 3.74, his FIP in 2011 was 3.73, and his FIP this year is 3.72. The entire picture is something like this: He’s a bit above average, well below elite, and is an absolute battler on the mound. One concern in his profile: his results in last year’s postseason numbers were atrocious at best. He started three games but only managed 9.2 innings, yielding three homers, five walks, and only managing five strikeouts while 16 runs crossed the plate. Such a postseason meltdown may lead the Yankees to pause, but the Brewers are slowly slipping out of contention and Marcum on the open market may command a three-to-five year deal that they can’t provide. Chances that he’ll end up in pinstripes (one to five): four

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17 Responses to 5 Pitchers the Yankees can target at the trade deadline

  1. uyf1950 says:

    Of those choices I would pick McCarthy but as the piece says that would depend on the price.

    • Nick Fleder says:

      The A's will be sellers, so there's a chance we could see him in pinstripes. I'd have to guess the home run rate would be especially scary and he could well be a 4th starter on their roster.

  2. Matt_DC says:

    Hi Nick, I am not sure on your chart if 1 or 5 is most likely? Either way, unless one of the Yankees starting five gets hurt I really do not see this group as a definite upgrade. Yes, the Yankees starters have been inconsistent, but unless Nova and /or Hughes completely implodes I can't see the Yankees relegating one to the bullpen or AAA to make room for these guys.

    Edwin Jackson puts up solid numbers year after year, but why don't teams want to keep him? Detroit, the D-Backs, Chisox, and Cards have all traded him/let him go since 2009(!). The Nationals moved young lefty Ross Detwiler to the bullpen to make room for our old pal Chien-Ming Wang, so if they are looking to move Jackson they have a replacement. That said, for Jackson's contract/value why would they move him? The Nats are in first and he's their fourth starter. If the rumors are true then I stay away.

    • Nick Fleder says:

      5 is most likely, Matt. Jackson's enigmatic but vastly underrated – he got a one year, $10 million dollar contract in an admittedly dense market… but that's paying, essentially, for ~2 WAR, and he's put up 3+ in the last three years. His WHIP and ERA numbers aren't pretty but he's a workhorse and gamer; the same guy I referred to managed a no-hitter despite 7 walks and 150ish pitches.

      Jackson's not the most likely to go, but I used him as an example to try to dispel your notion that the Yankees don't need an upgrade. I respectfully disagree: the five aforementioned guys all have higher 2012 fWARs than Kuroda, Nova, Pettitte, and Hughes. And I only included Pettitte (the Yankees likely #2 come playoff time) on the list because his durability and therefore availability during the postseason is a glaring question.

  3. Fred says:

    I honestly don't think any of those guys would crack our playoff rotation, other than Garza or Jackson if they made the adjustment to Yankee Stadium and the AL East.

    • Nick Fleder says:

      Who do you have starting? Sabathia is a lock, Pettitte is the assumed number two… then you turn the ball over to Ivan Nova? Phil Hughes (who has tricked us into thinking he's back with an improved performance in June that's still unimpressive)? Certainly not Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 4.62 FIP and has given up nearly a home run (11) per start (12). McCarthy may not thrive in NYS and Lewis isn't moving, but Jackson, Garza, or Marcum would have to really screw the pooch in their summer audition to miss the playoff rotation.

  4. Gonzalo says:

    I really don't like E Jackson, teams get rid of him so there should be a reason why, also his ERA is 4.38 and 1.45 WHIP.
    There is no way the Rangers are going to trade Lewis to the Yankees and face him in playoffs.

    I like Garza, McCarthy and Marcum (in that order) but like Matt DC mentioned they aren't a huge upgrade over Kuroda, Hughes or Nova.

    If you bring Hamels or Cain that's different and still the big problem I see right now is what should we give, I really like Banuelos but right now him and Betances aren't considered the same prospects they were considered a year ago, teams aren't going to take them like the big prospect for a trade so It would be difficult to buy cheap. Romine was another card that we couldn't use right now.

    • Nick Fleder says:

      Edwin Jackson's ERA and WHIP are much, much better this year, and he's among the league leaders in the latter category. Lewis probably isn't moving – you are right – but I'd argue that Garza and Jackson especially would be potentially substantial upgrades over the three-through-five starters for the Bombers now. All of them are prone to meltdowns and two have ERAs that are above 4.50.

  5. Greg Corcoran says:

    Great article. You did a great job profiling each guy they could go after. To be honest though, I think the starting rotation is the least of our worries. I know im partial because I wrote an article about a week ago saying our starting rotation will be a strength but I stand by it. Hughes has been awesome since then. Nova has too. Even kuroda. Which of the guys above is going to be better? Def not edwin jackson IMO. Garza maybe but why risk it when our rotation has been so good. Sabathia has been the worst of all of them in the past month. Kuroda, Hughes, Nova, and Pettitte have been so good… why make a trade when it would just cost prospects. I am a huge fan of our rotation since they’ve been great the past month and a half. No reason to mess with a good thing. If you’re gonna trade get an outfielder IMO.

    • Nick Fleder says:

      Thanks, Greg! Hughes has been better of late, but until I see a several month-long trend, I have a hard time believing it's anything but fortune. His whole performance is ugly, as you well know: he's below average in ERA, FIP, xFIP… He gives up more than a homer per start… He has a 5.08 ERA on the road…

      And while the whole bunch, more or less, has picked up their performance, I think it's smart to look at the entire year's story rather than this bit. Rotations and individual pitchers have hot and cold streaks, but all the events point to a messy rotation that can be built upon. Never ignore the previous faults just because they seem to have slipped away – I don't think Kuroda, Nova, or even Hughes has tapped something big that'll turn around how they are as a pitcher and help them reinvent themselves. I think we should ignore the good fortune and buy assuming our luck will turn sour at one point or another.

  6. mikefoxtrot says:

    Jackson can't be had for the price of Nunez, Lewis can't be had at all. and the others aren't worth trading for.

    We don't need starting pitching al that much either unless it's elite-level talent.

    You wanna speculate a bit then what are chances of landing Hamels, Halladay or Bumgarner?

    • Nick Fleder says:

      We won't land Halladay or Bumgarner, especially not the latter. Phillies seem hellbent on extending Hamels but he's going to be unbelievably pricey and they may want to restock their farm system. I have a gut feeling they'll be sellers and the Yankees have some goods to try to blow them away.

      Why aren't the others worth trading for?

  7. mikefoxtrot says:

    I'm unenthusiastic about them for reasons of their limited marginal utility. The way i reckon it, we've 5 pretty good pitchers at present, two more good ones (Pineda and Banuelos) ready to go next season, if we need two more, and sufficient depth to cover short-term shortfalls.

    The cost of trading for starting pitching at mid-season is usually steep and best forborne unless the need is great.

  8. I do not know if a trade is necessary given the current streak of the starters. I think Hughes and Nova will be solid from here on out. Pettitte as the no.2 and CC no1. If your going to make a trade it has to be an ace or solid no.2 to anchor the rotation and I do not see an yon this list that qualifies. And while I'm lukewarm to this trade I do belive Wandy Rodriquez is the pitcher most likely to be heading to the Bronx and he's not even on this list….

  9. sportsfan360 says:

    What about zack greinke of the brewers? i heard talk of yanks might target him. This is greinke's last year of contract and if a new contract is not made he will head to FA which the yankees may consider doing but if another team trades or greinke or signs him a new contract the yankees may have to resort to a new pitcher. Zack greinke also has won a AL cy young award in 2009 in that year greinke went 16-8 with a 2.16 era.And with the brewers struggle with money i would not be suprised in the brewers move the 28-year old right hander in exchange for some prospects.

  10. godfather says:

    i'd rather the ball be in phelps' hands than in any of these guys'