The New York Yankees made significant moves over the past few weeks, outbidding teams for Corey Kluber and acquiring Jameson Taillon in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. General manager Brian Cashman has been busy, but he’s been facing opposition for his latest acquisitions, as AL East rivals tried to sabotage his plans. Specifically, the Tampa Bay Rays had their sights set on Corey Kluber and also tried to trade for Taillon, which is a precarious situation since the Yankees clearly had the two in their focus.
After the Rays decided to let Charlie Morton walk in free agency and traded ace Blake Snell, they had to fill two starting spots in the rotation, and while they did target both of the starters, the Yankees ended up landing, their attempts at sabotage fell silently.
Buster Olney of ESPN confirmed Tampa’s interest in the Yankees’ targets:
The Rays decided to not pick up the option ofÂ Charlie MortonÂ and tradedÂ Blake Snell, but that does not mean theyâ€™ve given up on trying to upgrade the rotation this winter. They were in the bidding for Corey Kluber, with manager Kevin Cash driving across the state to see Kluber in person. They also tried to trade for Jameson Taillon — with both pitchers landing on the roster of the division-rival Yankees.â€
The Yankees are taking a risky approach with both Kluber and Taillon, no matter how you look at it. While both starters are expected to be fully healthy for Opening Day, theyâ€™re coming off significant injuries and have barely pitched over the past two seasons. Cashman did not have much of a choice but to take a chance on both players, as ownership enforced a strict rule to keep the team under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.
Nonetheless, the Yankees were extremely enticed by Pittsburghâ€™s reviews of Taillon, as Aaron Boone stated it was the best feedback he had ever gotten for a player.
“This is the best [feedback] I’ve gotten, by far,” Boone said. “Across the board, what I heard was how this guy is unbelievable, as far as the human being that he is.”
With spring training expected to start up on February 17, expect both starters to continue the rehabilitation and work their way toward normalcy. The biggest hurdle will likely be mentality, as they both are physically in good shape to start ramping things up.