New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is moving heaven and earth to find another starting pitching option to add to the rotation. Currently, the Yankees have a group of players that have missed significant time due to injury or suspension, so feeling confident might be a bit optimistic. Nonetheless, the rotation was a significant weakness going into the off-season, especially after losing James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ. However, Cashman has done a solid job adding as much talent as possible with cost efficiency in mind.
Ownership has made it clear that they want to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, so Cashman is working with serious limitations. He landed Corey Kluber on a one-year, $11 million deal after he impressed scouts during a bullpen session a few days ago. In his prime, he is a Cy Young caliber pitcher but has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two years. If he does return to form, the Yankees will be in great shape at the top of their rotation, but there are no guarantees.
Again, finding cheaper contracts attached to quality is how Cashman is operating, which brings up the latest rumored trade, Jameson Taillon of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A Yankees/Taillon trade is imminent:
The Yankees are getting extremely close to trading for the Pittsburgh starter, and at 29 years old, he is another arm coming off Tommy John surgery. This is his second time undergoing the surgery, having missed the entire 2020 season. However, he should be ready for Opening Day, but it could take additional weeks for him to find his groove.
His most recent significant body of work came in 2018, similar to Kluber. They have pitched a very comparable number of innings over the past two years, so the Yankees are taking a massive risk with so many former injured players in their starting rotation. However, two years ago, Taillon posted a 3.20 ERA with a 46.2% ground ball rate, which is fitting for Yankee Stadium.
An outside factor playing a part in his courtship:
There could be one external factor that is playing a part in the Yankees’ courtship for Taillon. Way back in 2010, when he was selected number two overall, he developed a close relationship with current Yankee ace Gerrit Cole. They date back to the Pittsburgh minor-league system, so it is possible Cole is vouching for his talents.
Having a familiar face and a friend is always beneficial for morale, especially if Cole and Taillon can work off each other. While the Yankees and Cashman are taking an optimistic and risky approach with all of these injured pitchers, if it does pan out, they could have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. As always, though, it’s a big “IF.”