This year’s Yankees squad is loaded with problems, but the same could be said for much of the American League East so they are technically battling for first place right now. However, for the team to have any real shot at a playoff run they are going to have to improve which means trades.
With huge holes in the starting rotation it may be best to plug those holes first. The problem is, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, the Yankees won’t be able to pry the top available names, David Price and Jeff Samardzija, away from their respective teams.
Sherman noted that Price, who will cost an arm and a leg in prospects, is unavailable to them as the Tampa Bay Rays would avoid trading within the division. Samardzija is a no-go because the Cubs want a “close-to-the-majors, high-end starting pitcher.” If the Yankees had that, he’d be in the majors right now so that rules him out.
Sherman lists John Danks, Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy as other possibilities. The problem with that group is that none are the type of front-end dominant starters the Yankees would need to make up for the fact that they have one of the worst offenses in the AL. Giving up big-time prospects for any of them seems foolish.
One interesting name that is out there is Cliff Lee. The Phillies might be willing to deal him for a number of reasons. First of all, the Phillies are in last place, second, he has been dealing with pain in his elbow, and third, on top of the remainder of his $25 million salary he’s owed for this season, he’s also owed anywhere from $37.5 million to $52.5 million over the next two years depending on whether or not his option vests.
That combination may give the Yankees a chance to actually be able to swing a deal. The problems are that everyone needs pitching and they won’t be the only team bidding on him, that elbow pain could be a red flag warning of future injuries and the Yankees may not want to spend that kind of money.
It might be worth the risk though. As bad as the Yankees have been, they are still right in a playoff race. Lee, despite getting older, is still the same dominant pitcher that the Yankees tried to trade for multiple times in the past.
Lee is currently sporting a 3.18 ERA with a 8.1 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9 in 68 innings. In his four seasons as a Phillie, in the latest go around, he’s been pretty consistent with a 2.83 ERA, a 8.9 K/9 and a 1.4 BB/9.
Personally, I don’t see the Yankees making a huge push for the World Series this season. If the can land Lee by picking up his large salary and throwing in a few prospects that’s fine, but it would be hard to see them giving up some of their better chips for a guy that will be 37 next summer and will still command top dollar. Any deals the Yankees make this year, Lee included, should be made with 2015 and 2016 in mind as well.