Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees might sign Dallas Keuchel next week, and that would not preclude them from pivoting toward a trade for a high-end starting pitcher, according to major league sources.
As SNY has reported previously, the Yanks are targeting rotation help at the trade deadline above all other needs. With Domingo German facing possible innings restrictions, Luis Severino out for a long time, and CC Sabathia and James Paxton in various states of knee pain (Paxton returns Wednesday), the rotation is the team's clearest need.
The Yanks are not specifically viewing Keuchel as an alternative to sacrificing trade chips for a Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer or Zack Wheeler, all of whom would likely interest them. Teams are not yet talking in earnest about these trades, and typically wait until after the draft to do so.
Brian Cashman's front office tends to take each opportunity on an individual basis. At this moment, Keuchel interests them. The Yanks have sent scouts to watch him throw simulated games, and expect to play for Keuchel after Monday's amateur draft, when he will no longer be attached to a pick.
Executives from multiple teams tracking Keuchel say that they expect him to sign shortly after the draft. None of those executives believe that agent Scott Boras has a handshake deal in place with a team yet. It's unclear if Boras will be able to find a multi-year offer for Keuchel. In other words, the market is still developing.
For several weeks, executives have said that Keuchel is willing to take a one-year deal that exceeds the $17.9 million qualifying offer. Boras' camp has privately pushed back on this.
Here's why the Yankees can likely afford both Keuchel and a trade:
The team has exceeded the first competitive balance tax threshold of $206 million and is paying a penalty. It would incur additional penalties by going over the threshold by $20 million and $40 million. Essentially, there are three luxury tax numbers.
It can be tricky to pin down exactly where a team stands on luxury tax payroll, because a player's number is calculated based on the average annual value of his contract.
For trade deadline purposes, this is what you need to know: According to sources, the Yankees' internal calculation is that they have less than, but in the neighborhood of, $20 million to add in-season before being taxed again.
This means that they could likely sign Keuchel and trade for Bauer, Stroman or Wheeler.
If Keuchel signs a one-year deal for $18 million after Monday's draft, the signing team won't be taxed on the full $18 million, but on the prorated number.
It's the same with a trade acquisition: Stroman is making $7.4 million this year. If the Yankees acquire him on July 31, Stroman's luxury tax number for them will be far less than half the full salary.
It's not hard, then, to see the Yankees having the room to add both Keuchel and a high-end pitcher via trade. Doing so would push them close to another tax threshold, and make it difficult to make other additions. But with the bullpen loaded and several position players set to return from the injured list, the notion of adding two starters could be appealing.