Should the Yankees try to leverage young starting pitcher as trade piece?

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees will have a lot to address this upcoming offseason after a disappointing 2023 season, and one intriguing player could potentially draw trade interest. Starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt, who has been one of the few bright spots on the Yankees this season, could be a young player that New York leverages as a trade piece.

An inconsistent season from Clarke Schmidt

Schmidt started the year slowly, was in a groove for most of the summer, but has stumbled once again. Overall, he is pitching to a 4.65 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 151 innings pitched.

With Michael King returning to the rotation and shining (1.69 ERA in last four starts), there becomes less of a need for Schmidt to be in the Yankees’ rotation next season, as they will have a healthy Carlos Rodón paired with ace Gerrit Cole and a healthy Nestor Cortes to join them.

Therefore, Schmidt would likely be the No. 5 starter in the rotation next season, provided that they do not sign or trade for a different starter. This would make Schmidt essentially a non-factor if the team were to make the playoffs.

Why the Yankees could use Schmidt as a trade piece

It would make perfect sense for the Yankees to use Schmidt as a trade piece to address the offense.

New York has a clear and obvious need this offseason: add more offensive talent. The pitching was what kept them afloat this season, but unfortunately for them, New York couldn’t pitch their way to the postseason.

This would not be the first time Schmidt was used as leverage in a trade. A couple of weeks ago, Red Sox reporter Chris Henrique revealed on X that Boston and the Yankees discussed a trade around the deadline this past July that would see outfielder Alex Verdugo and Schmidt switch places.

Nothing materialized from those discussions, but it is definitely worth noting that the Yankees are willing to put Schmidt on the open market.

Who could be the trade target?

As for who they could trade for, the options are fairly limited. The best options for the Yankees will be free agents this offseason, such as outfielder Cody Bellinger. Assuming a pursuit of Bellinger falls short, the Yankees could potentially look at fall-back options like San Francisco Giants outfielder Michael Conforto.

Conforto missed all of the 2022 season with an injury before signing with the Giants after losing out on Aaron Judge, and he has a solid season, batting .247 with 15 home runs in 117 games played. He has a player option for next season, the final year of a two-year deal with the Giants, which could open the door for the Yankees to jumpstart negotiations.

Of course, Conforto is not the only option available, but he is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Follow this writer on X/Twitter: @DylanBacker_

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