John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
A month later it is harder to fault Brian Cashman for holding firm at the trade deadline, largely because none of the starting pitchers who were either available or traded have been particularly impressive since then.
If anything, it is all the more intriguing to think about what might have been had the Giants not gotten hot in July, essentially taking Madison Bumgarner off the market.
The 29-year old left-hander, so famous for his past post-season heroics, has pitched very well even as the Giants' wild-card hopes have faded. While their record is 11-16 since the deadline, Bumgarner went 3-1 in August with a 3.17 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
Cashman may have passed on Bumgarner anyway, as the analytics made the case that he is no longer an elite starter. Or the GM may have gambled on him as a proven October difference-maker, which is the only level of pitcher that made sense for the Yankees.
The only other difference-maker _ other than Zack Greinke, whose no-trade clause made him a non-factor at the deadline, at least in my mind, was Trevor Bauer, and I thought Cashman should have made a harder push to get him from the Indians.
However, so far it looks like that would have been a mistake, based on how poorly he has pitched for the Reds, going 1-4 with an 8.40 ERA in six starts.
Otherwise, the only real second-guess at this point would be not signing free agent Dallas Keuchel in June, especially since that move would have allowed Cashman to hold onto his prospects.
Overall Keuchel's numbers are just ok with the Braves, as he has gone 6-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 starts, but it could be that he's rounding into form after his late start to the season. In his last four starts the lefty is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA, having allowed three runs over 25 innings.
The Yankees had interest in Keuchel but drew the line at what they'd offer, though there remains some disparity as to the details of him signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves.
Cashman has said that agent Scott Boras never came back to him to see if the Yankees would top the Braves offer, indicating to him that Keuchel preferred to go to Atlanta.
However, on an ESPN Sunday night game a few weeks ago Alex Rodriguez said Keuchel's preference would have been to play for the Yankees, indicating that he has inside information.
In any case, Keuchel might be the one guy Cashman will wind up wishing he'd ponied up to get, especially on a one-year deal.
As for the trade deadline, remember, here is how those traded or available have fared since July 31:
Trevor Bauer: He looked like he was turning into an ace last year, pitching to a 2.21 ERA, and he was solid for the Indians this season, but somehow being traded to Cincinnati put him in a funk. In his last four starts he has given up a whopping 24 runs in 18.1 innings, and one scout who has seen him recently said, "He looks like he did a few years ago, when he had great stuff but no command."
Marcus Stroman: He campaigned for a trade to the Yankees, saying he was made for the big stage, but as a Met so far he has proven Cashman right for not being willing to give up top prospects for him -- the Blue Jays wanted Deivi Garcia for him. In fact, a source says the Yankee GM saw Stroman as a mid-rotation starter, and not a difference-maker come the post-season.
Robbie Ray: The lefthander is having a solid season for the Diamondbacks, 12-7 with a 3.97 ERA. Since the deadline he's 3-0 with a 4.30 ERA, but he's also walked 12 hitters over his last four starts, covering only 18 innings, an indication of control problems he's had throughout his career -- something scouts feared could be exacerbated pitching at Yankee Stadium. And the D-backs reportedly were asking a big price for him.
Matthew Boyd: Still not clear how available he was, but the Tigers' lefty would have come with four years of contractual control, potentially justifying giving up top prospects. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, however, he hasn't proven he can be anything resembling a dominant starter, and since the deadline he seemingly has gone backwards, pitching to a 7.16 ERA over six starts.
Tanner Roark: Not that he was ever really a pitcher the Yankees were considering, as someone closer to a journeyman than an elite starter, but I include Roark here because he has pitched as well anyone traded at the deadline. In five starts for the A's he's 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA -- a solid return for a fringe outfield prospect, Jameson Hannah.
Zack Greinke: As expected he has pitched well for Houston, going 4-0 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts, but so far there is no sign of secret sauce the Astros have become known for in helping Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole raise their games. He might make the Yankees' task of beating the 'Stros in October more difficult, but he wouldn't have accepted a trade to the Bronx, via his no-trade clause, so he was never in the mix for Cashman.
Bottom line, then, perhaps I was too tough on the Yankees' GM at the time, giving him a a grade of C - after the deadline passed, especially the way Bauer has pitched since then.
Cashman's one regret may turn out to be not offering more for Keuchel on a one-year deal, depending how the former Cy Young winner pitches for the Braves in October. But as for holding on to his top prospects, especially Garcia, so far it looks as if Cashman made the right call.