John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
So Gio Gonzalez is a Milwaukee Brewer, finally, and it appears that Dallas Keuchel's asking price would still have to drop considerably for either the Mets or Yankees to consider signing him.
Yet it's a good bet that both local teams will be in the market for another starting pitcher come the July 31 trade deadline.
And though it's not likely to be a particularly bountiful trade crop, at least a few intriguing possibilities have emerged a month into the season:
The Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman and the Rangers' Mike Minor are both pitching at a high level yet are likely to be available, each with one more season before free agency, as their teams rebuild.
Then there's Madison Bumgarner. He got beat up by the Yankees on Friday and doesn't seem to be on that ace-like level anymore, yet he could be tempting for teams due to his big-game reputation, with the going-nowhere Giants are almost certainly headed for a full rebuild.
Bumgarner, who turns 30 on Aug. 1 as he heads for free agency this winter, is 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA. He gave up 11 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings in losing to the Yankees in San Francisco on Friday.
With that in mind, an executive from one major league team on Monday said Bumgarner could be a "really tough call" for any team at the deadline.
"Our (scouting) reports so far indicate that his stuff isn't quite as crisp as it was," the exec said. "Everyone wondered if the injuries the last couple of years were the issue, but he seems healthy this year, and the velocity is still down a couple of ticks from his World Series years, and the slider doesn't have the same consistent bite.
"He's still a guy you'd want in your rotation, but at the top? That's the question. If the Giants are going to ask for a return that's based on what he did in the past, when he won those big postseason games, you'd have to have faith he could still be that guy."
Would the Yankees, more so than the Mets, be willing to make that leap?
I've long thought Brian Cashman would be in play for the lefthander as something of a final piece to winning a championship in 2019. But it's worth remembering the Yankees GM is guided in making such deals by what his analytics department tells him, and if the numbers aren't favorable, even Bumgarner's legendary intangibles might not sway him.
It's also worth noting the Yankees aren't as loaded with prospects as they were a few years ago, which could be a factor as well. With Clint Frazier again looking like an impact player before injuring his ankle last week, it's hard to imagine Cashman including him in such a deal.
For that matter, the Yankees don't seem to need pitching, at least on the surface, as their starters are faring well even without Luis Severino, currently third in the AL with a 3.51 ERA.
However, Severino's absence could take a toll eventually, depending on the severity of his shoulder/lat issue, and beyond that Cashman told me last week there will be innings limits for Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga, whose totals in the minors have been curtailed by injuries.
Cashman also made a point of noting that Jordan Montgomery should be back sometime this season from last year's Tommy John surgery, but he was candid about expecting to be in trade market again this summer, after dealing for Sonny Gray in 2017 and J.A. Happ last year.
"We'll always need pitching," Cashman said. "And we'll always look to add pitching, no matter what."
For the Mets, meanwhile, the underperformance of their starters, who have a combined 5.18 ERA, second-worst in the NL, could force them to look for a trade at some point, especially if their surprising offense continues to be contender-worthy.
I have to believe Jacob deGrom will figure out his recent problems, but Noah Syndergaard's inability to dominate with his high-velocity fastball, together with his ongoing search for his swing-and-miss slider, is more worrisome.
And, depending partly on Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, that could make it harder for the Mets to live with a ceiling of mediocrity from No. 5 starter Jason Vargas.
With no starting-pitcher prospects close enough to be a factor this season, Brodie Van Wagenen might be compelled to honor his win-now mantra, which he referenced again in designating Travis d'Arnaud for assignment on Sunday, by pulling off a significant trade at the deadline.
As it is, the Mets had discussions with the Rangers about Minor during the offseason, but the 31-year old lefty has since improved his stock with a strong April.
Minor is 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA, a more effective starter since developing a cutter to get in on righthanded hitters -- righties are hitting .195 against him this season.
Because the Rangers are in a full rebuild, however, executives believe Minor will be dealt at the deadline.
To some degree, that's the feeling about Stroman, the Long Island product who is pitching to a 1.43 ERA in six starts. However, he's young enough -- turning 28 on May 1 -- that the Blue Jays could decide to make him part of their future as they rebuild.
In either case, with both pitchers under control through 2020, teams almost surely would have to give up significant prospects to make such a trade. And it's worth remembering that Van Wagenen dealt top prospects Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic in the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
They could have had Gonzalez on the cheap. Same went for the Yankees, but neither team thought he was worth it. Perhaps they'll feel different about one of these early trade candidates.