Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
San Diego Padres reliever Brad Hand would be a perfect fit for the Yankees, lengthening a bullpen that is already dominant as well as helping to cover for a thin rotation. And if he were to become a member of the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox, the Yanks' path to the World Series would be much more difficult.
But despite all that, signs point to the Yankees acquiring a starter like Cole Hamels or J.A. Happ instead.
In private as well as in public, the Yanks' front office is worried about rotation depth. They are pleased with the contributions from Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga, but know better than to count on those rookies for long.
With Jordan Montgomery out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Masahiro Tanaka missing several weeks with a double hamstring injury (and with the ever-present possibility that an aging CC Sabathia could hit the DL again, which the Yankees acknowledge internally), the Yanks are aggressively seeking a starter. Though Brian Cashman has proven capable of operating on multiple fronts, the rotation is his current emphasis.
As previously reported, the Yankees like Happ. Rivals believe that the Blue Jays are open for business, and would have no issue trading a free-agent-to-be within their division. Hamels is another option. The Yanks also like Tampa's Chris Archer, but the Rays typically demand a higher price from them than they would from other clubs.
The Yankees like Hand, too, because anyone would. He is lefthanded, dominant, and under control at a reasonable price for 2 ½ more seasons, with a team option for 2021. But therein also lies the problem. Because of Hand's extreme value, the cost in prospects will be high.
"Hand is worth one untouchable," says one major league evaluator. "And the Yankees hoard prospects now."
In 2015, lefty relief ace Andrew Miller netted the Yankees Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, both top prospects at the time. It's almost impossible to imagine Cashman trading a package like that for anyone.
Meanwhile, the GM is actively hunting for starting pitching, in an effort to win the division. He is aware of the need to upgrade as soon as possible, because every week counts against the Red Sox, and in the ultimate effort to avoid a wild card game. The hunt for rotation help seems more front-burner, and more realistic, than adding to his bullpen.