Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees continue to roll, but it remains clear that a rotation upgrade could be the difference between dominating the regular season and passing the Houston Astros to win the American League pennant. Two of the their most appealing options, Texas' Cole Hamels and Detroit's Michael Fulmer, bring very different pros and cons. Here's a look:
At 25 years old and with five years of team control remaining, Fulmer will likely be a prize at this year's trade deadline. That means that the Tigers can demand a high price, and play suitors against one another. Even teams like the Braves and Phillies, who might not be quite ready to win, could see value in bidding for Fulmer.
Because of that, the Yankees need to be prepared to pay a steep price in talent. Why would the Tigers agree to a deal that didn't begin with Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar? And why would the Yankees trade a potential All-Star infielder for the higher risk of a pitcher, even one as good as Fulmer? The questions suggest that a fit will be tough.
Still, it is appealing to add a high-end pitcher to help in 2018 and beyond, as other veterans in the rotation move on.
This season, Fulmer is 1-3, with a 4.35 ERA.
The market for Hamels (who pitches on Tuesday night against the Yankees) will likely be far less robust. He's 34 years old, and makes $23.5 million this year. While a specific market has yet to develop, rival executives believe that the Rangers will not be able to ask for high-end talent. The Rangers hold a $20 million option (with a $6 million buyout) on Hamels for next season, but will have a hard time selling him as a player under control for 2019, because clubs are unlikely to pick up that option.
There's a belief among evaluators surveyed informally for this piece that outfielder Clint Frazier, an extra piece for the Yanks, would be enough to frontline a package for Hamels. It remains to be seen, of course, if other teams will get involved, and drive that price up.
Hamels has a mixed record in the postseason. He was World Series MVP in 2008, then ineffective against the Yankees the following year. But his veteran pedigree and playoff experience are a net plus. Money could be an issue, but the Yanks do have room to expand before hitting the $197 million luxury tax threshold. The Associated Press estimated the Yanks' Opening Day payroll at $167 million, and their prospect depth would enable them to send more players to Texas, in order for the Rangers to offset more of Hamels' salary.
This season, Hamels is 2-4, with a 3.48 ERA.
Hamels is the guy.