2 of the Yankees’ most valuable trade pieces

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the winter meetings just days away, the New York Yankees have already been connected to a number of high-profile free agents and trade targets. The most notable include international star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto and, of course, superstar lefty slugger Juan Soto, both of whom could end up in the Bronx if the Yankees play their cards right.

At some point, the Padres will have to offload salary, and the Yankees will be waiting for the opportunity to jump on a prospective deal. San Diego is looking for MLB-ready pitching, and the Yankees have several arms they could consider moving in exchange for one of the best offensive players in baseball.

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Two valuable trade pieces for the Yankees:

1.) Michael King

In a perfect world, the Yankees would hold onto 28-year-old pitcher Michael King, but most should be considered if it involves Juan Soto. King is preparing to transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation full-time, having put together some phenomenal numbers at the end of the 2023 season. He hosted a collective 2.75 ERA and 3.13 FIP, including 10.92 strikeouts per nine, 81.1% left-on-base rate, and 42.8% ground ball rate across a career-high 104.2 innings.

As a starter, King posted a 2.02 ERA, 11.36 strikeouts per nine, an 86.2% left-on-base rate, and a 34.8% ground ball rate across 35.2 innings. He is by far one of the team’s most valuable players, especially since he’s under control until the 2026 off-season. The Yankees have two more years left of King at an extremely low price point, so the assumption is the Padres would be eyeing a talent of this caliber.

However, most would hope the Yankees hold onto King and leverage one of their other starters, preferably Clarke Schmidt or a rising prospect.

2.) Clarke Schmidt

There is an argument that the Yankees could try to move fan-favorite Nestor Cortes, but Schmidt has more value coming off his first full season as a starter at 27 years old and presenting substantial upside. He pitched a career-high 159 innings this past season, hosting a 4.64 ERA, including a 70.2% left-on-base rate and 43.8% ground ball rate.

While he was inconsistent for the majority of the season, Schmidt did put together some impressive outings, and showcasing consistency would certainly boost his stock. The Bombers could sell that upside, especially to a team that may be looking for a middle-of-the-rotation arm with the potential to become more.

If the Yankees manage to land Yamamoto, the top three slots in the rotation will be filled and Schmidt will be pushed toward the end of the carousel. His role would still be significant as a No. 4-5 starter, especially with three pitchers having departed this off-season. The Yankees desperately need offense, and leveraging Clarke’s value now may be fruitful.