Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Injuries have decimated the Yankees at almost every position this season, but the front office expects to focus on acquiring starting pitching before the July 31 trade deadline, according to major league sources.
With Luis Severino and James Paxton on the injured list and Masahiro Tanaka's partially torn elbow ligament always on the team's mind, the Yankees view rotation help as the most pressing need. After the amateur draft ends on June 5, the team will turn its focus to that pursuit.
An acquisition could come either in the form of a trade or of a signing of free agent Dallas Keuchel. The Yankees are not willing to sign Keuchel before the draft, which would mean sacrificing a pick. But once the draft passes, they will view the former Cy Young winner as a viable short-term upgrade.
Teams engaged on Keuchel generally view him as a declining pitcher, and point to his decreasing ground ball rate and increasing hard contact rate, among other peripheral stats. But according to executives from multiple teams in touch with Keuchel's agent Scott Boras, the pitcher has expressed a willingness to sign a one-year deal, as long as the offer exceeds the $17.9 million qualifying offer.
If the Yankees don't acquire Keuchel, they will pursue a trade. We're sure to hear Madison Bumgarner's name mentioned in rumors and reports, but the Yanks are not alone in viewing Bumgarner as a shell of his former self, at least at the moment. Texas' Mike Minor and Toronto's Marcus Stroman are two of the better pitchers who might be available.
And here's a wild card option: If the struggling Mets find themselves out of contention by summer, expect the Yankees to inquire again on Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler.
Remember, the Yanks were pushing to trade for Mets starting pitching at the winter meetings in December, when the solid relationship between new GM Brodie Van Wagenen and Brian Cashman improved the dynamic between the clubs. The Yankees made a run at Syndergaard then, and haven't forgotten about him or Wheeler.
For now, the Mets are far more likely to be buyers than sellers, and expect to be competing with the Yankees for similar trade targets.