Not much more than a year ago, the Yankees trio of pitching prospects, The Killer B’s, were among the best prospect trio in baseball. Today only Manny Banuelos still looks promising and he’s on the DL with an elbow injury.
The trio before them came with even more hype and right now Phil Hughes is the only one contributing in the Bronx and even he is still a question mark after a surrendering four homers in a day this week.
The point is that it’s hard to rely on pitching prospects because more often than not they will let you down. So the Yankees have already turned to the trade market for an upgrade and because Michael Pineda came down with a shoulder injury may have to turn there again if they are going to continue to have an elite pitching staff into the future.
This brings us to a story Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports did this week. One where he made a case that it might be in the Mariners’ best interest to deal their ace, Felix Hernandez, something that has always been considered out of the question.
It’s the same argument Rosenthal has made in the past – the M’s have enough pitching prospects and not enough hitting prospects so they should deal their biggest chip to change things. In the past it was brushed off as he had a team friendly contract, but as the time on the contract ticks down and the amount Hernandez’s earns creeps upward it becomes more likely that they may actually deal him.
This brings us to my question – should the Yankees get involved if King Felix becomes available.
The Yankees have a solid pitching staff this season, but don’t have a clear No. 3 starter for the playoffs as of right now. There is also the possibility that both Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda leave this offseason. So acquiring Hernandez could give them a solid playoff rotation and fill a potential hole in 2013′s rotation, but a potential deal isn’t without it’s cons.
For one thing, the Yankees are going to try to get payroll under $189 million by 2014 and with the rolls already over $200 million it is going to take some cutting. Hernandez will cost $20 million in 2014 and will certainly be in line for a raise if he hits the free agent market as a healthy 29-year-old. So acquiring him and reaching their budget goals could be at odds.
Beyond that, the Yankees will have to do something that GM Brian Cashman doesn’t like to do – pay twice. Not only will the Yankees have to pay big dollars, $39.5 million in 2013 and 2014, and more if they want to re-sign him past 2014, if he’s healthy they will, but they will have to shell out a kings ransom in prospects.
They’ve already dealt their biggest chip, Jesus Montero, to the Mariners in the failed Michael Pineda trade. Now a deal would start with Banuelos and probably Gary Sanchez and possibly one of Tyler Austin or Mason Williams as well. And that might not even be the end of it.
Perhaps one other huge reason to not get involved is Cole Hamels. The Phillies lefty will be hitting the free agent market after this season and could be just as attractive and won’t cost the prospects.
It’s easy to say that yes, the Yankees should jump at the chance to land Felix Hernandez if he becomes available. The truth though is that he’s going to cost a lot, in both money and prospects, and if they feel they have the money to swing it, they could just go after Hamels instead and if they decide to sacrifice the prospects than perhaps there would be a cheaper pitcher on the market they would be better off targeting.