Trade Deadline Special: What starting pitcher will Cashman move on?

New York Yankees' Jonathan Loaisiga in action during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, June 25, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Yankees need to upgrade their pitching by July 31

It is quite clear that the New York Yankees are legitimate contenders not only for the American League Pennant, but a World Series title. In order to accomplish their goals, the team’s brain trust will need to make an impactful move to upgrade the starting rotation before the July 31st trade deadline. Sonny Gray has struggled, Domingo German has been inconsistent, and help in the form of a young arm (Justus Sheffield) may be the piece needed to get a quality deal done. The front office would like to acquire a pitcher with playoff pedigree who can stabilize the pitching rotation behind Luis Severino and a healthy Masahiro Tanaka. The Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians all boast excellent pitching rotations. If the Yankees want to beat these teams in a postseason series, they must solidify their current rotation.

The New York Mets are bad. The hapless team out of Queens has no direction in sight and features an aging roster with inadequate offensive firepower. They are not built at this time to take advantage of the talents of Noah Synnegaard and Jacob deGrom, and do not have the sustainability or payroll to sign both players to long-term deals. DeGrom will not be around for a New York Mets rebuild and the 29-year old is likely to be moved. The question becomes when? A subway move would be ideal for both teams as the Yanks would get the dominant pitcher they covet, and the Mets would receive a strong package in return to kick off a full rebuild. The righty will not come cheap as he has been as good as advertised all year and is really throwing the ball well as of late. This makes his trade value even higher than once perceived. Coming into the All-Star break, he is 5-4 with a tiny ERA of 1.68 and has provided substantial value to a basement level team. This value is just what is needed to separate the Yankees from the rest of a loaded American League. An intra-city move would be detrimental to the organizational depth of the Yankees but it is just the type of splashy, dynamic move that is needed to put the team over the top as World Series contenders.

Another dynamic option is Madison Bumgarner. The workhorse is the best in the game on the hill when the calendar flips to October. During the San Francisco Giants 2014 World Series run, the October pitching machine put on one of the greatest postseason performances in MLB history. After an injury last year, and to start this season, Bumgarner has become sort of an afterthought in the baseball world. He is talked about much less, and has not yet had a string of dominant starts to solidify and gather his footing for a playoff race. In eight starts this season, the left-hander owns a 2.90 ERA with a 41:17 strikeout to walk ratio and has been rounding into form as of late. His postseason resume is sterling, and he could team up with Luis Severino to be the best 1-2 punch in the game for years to come. The Giants are a team that started slow and after a nice stretch, have been hovering around .500 for the last couple weeks and are 50-48 coming out of the All-Star break. With so much talent and season left, it would be hard to imagine the Giants winding as sellers at the trade deadline. The Giants outlook for the years to come in San Francisco will certainly determine whether the Yankees have a chance to secure the left-hander’s talents.

Cole Hamels is the player most likely to be in pinstripes by the July 31st trade deadline. A trade package for him would not sacrifice the Yankees long-term future and his contract is friendly beyond this year. Hamels is 5-8 with a 4.36 ERA on the year which leaves some to wonder if acquiring him would be truly impactful. His presence would undoubtedly improve the pitching rotation as it slides down the crafty C.C. Sabathia and takes pressure off of the struggling Sonny Gray. The veteran is a workhorse and has a knack for being around the zone and getting deep into games. This means the bullpen would benefit from the potential acquisition of Hamels, likely getting more rest in days that he takes the hill. His recent stretch of starts has called this strength into question however which may leave the Yankees as well as other teams scrambling to find a quality starter at a reasonable price. Cole Hamels is on a team friendly contract that will be a hefty price for the rest of this year but, will not interrupt any long-term free plans in free agency. In 2019, the Yankees can be in control and decide on their future with a team option for Hamels. This contract, to go along with his postseason experience, makes it very likely that a deal can get done between the Rangers and Yankees. The question is, do the Yankees actually desire the veteran?

If the Yankees do not end up securing the talents of DeGrom, or Bumgarner, and are not sold on Hamels, then Michael Fulmer becomes a viable option for the pitching staff. The Detroit Tigers right-hander is having a down year -stats as of All-Star break- but is a young, controllable pitcher, with the ability to change speeds and keep hitters off-balance. If he is locating his changeup along with his fastball, he quickly becomes incredibly difficult to square up. Fulmer also competes every time out and is starting to develop a reputation for getting deep into games. His value is diminished due to the fact that he has been hit hard this season, but this should not deter the Yankees in a potential trade for the 25-year old. He has proven that he can pitch well at the highest level and has the stuff to back it up. A change of scenery would do wonders for the young gun. If management were to acquire him his numbers would start to improve while the Yankees reap the benefits.

In examining the rest of the options that may be available towards the trade deadline, there is not much exciting talent. If the deal does not contain one of the pitchers listed above, then it is quite possible the team’s brass has not done enough to capture World Series number 28. Other pitchers that could end up in pinstripes include St Louis Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez, Tampa Bay Rays SP Nathan Eovaldi, San Diego Padres SP Tyson Ross, Baltimore Orioles SP Dylan Bundy, and Angels SP Andrew Heaney.