The New York Yankees have accepted the fact that they might lose out on some quality players this free agency period. As the Yankees continue to negotiate with DJ LeMahieu and his representatives on a contract extension, all other priorities have been put on hold. Depending on how much money they have to work with, the Yankees could target a big name if LeMahieu ends up walking in FA.
However, starting pitching remains a major need for the Yankees, and there have been reports of their interest in players with previous injuries. A great way to save money is to allocate money toward one-year deals with quality pitchers who have dealt with injuries the past few seasons.
One good option would be Corey Kluber, who only pitched in 36.2 innings the past two seasons. In 2018, he finished with a 2.89 ERA and was considered one of the best starters in baseball. Taking a flier on him now on a cost-efficient deal would be a great move for the Yankees, but it might not solve their No. 2 starter problem.
The New York Yankees could make one blockbuster trade with a Cincinnati Reds:
If general manager Brian Cashman wants to get aggressive, he could consider trading prospects for Redsâ€™ star Luis Castillo. Cincinnati has committed to the rebuild and are looking to offload as many quality players as possible. Castillo fits the bill well, as he is arbitration-eligible in 2022 and controlled by the team until 2024. This would give the Yankees several years of quality baseball for a pitcher whoâ€™s dominated for the most part over his four years in the MLB.
In 2020, Castillo pitched in 70 innings, earning a 3.21 ERA with 11.44 strikeouts per nine average. He recorded a 58.4 ground ball percentage, which would fit perfectly in Yankee Stadium. He only allowed five homers and walked 24 batters, indicating that he is just entering his prime. At 28 years old, he utilizes four pitches evenly. Castillo uses his changeup to 30%, fastball 27%, sinker 25%, and slider 18% of the time.
Nonetheless, it would take a ton of quality prospects to draw interest from the Reds in a potential trade. They would have to consider giving up Deivi Garcia, who made his MLB debut last season, RHP Luis Gil, and SS Anthony Volpe.
It would be a hefty price to pay for Castillo, but if the Yankees really consider the next few seasons as their window to win a championship, they must do everything possible to increase the probability of reaching the World Series. Eventually, they are going to have to pay Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, let alone figure out the catcher position with Gary Sanchez.
As long-term deals go on and players get up there in age, making win-now moves should be a priority. Castillo offers team control for the next three seasons and will fit in perfectly behind Gerrit Cole in the rotation.