It is no secret that the Yankees need more starting pitching, and they need it now. If the organization is serious about competing for a World Series in 2024, the addition of Juan Soto simply isn’t enough, having already given away a number of impact pitchers who were expected to serve a greater purpose next season.
Of course, we shouldn’t overlook the impact of Soto and the acquisition of Alex Verdugo. Both are durable and young players who will reinforce the batting order significantly. However, the Yankees’ starting rotation is missing a few pieces, which brings up a mock trade via Bleacher Report. While I don’t necessarily agree with this prospective deal, let’s take a look at what the pieces include.
Yankees Give: Spencer Jones and Austin Wells
Right off the bat, the Yankees have to part ways with their top prospect, according to many ranking systems. 22-year-old outfielder Spencer Jones has only spent 18 months with the Yankees’ minor league affiliates, but he represents substantial upside.
Last season, he played 100 games with A+ Hudson Valley, hitting .268/.337/.450. He struggled with his on-base percentages, and his strikeout rate sat at 29%. His numbers in AA with Somerset weren’t much better. In fact, they were 10% worse. He hit .261/.333/.406, including three homers and 10 RBIs over 17 games. However, he stole 43 bases last season and has elite upside with generational power. In addition, he’s a great athlete and can play multiple defensive positions in the outfield.
Jones has the ability to take over a starting outfield job full-time in the future, but in this instance, the Yankees leverage his value now for proven pitching.
Adding on another high-upside player may be a bit extreme, but Bleacher Report has Austin Wells heading to Miami to reinforce the offering. Wells is 24 years old and projects to be the team’s starting catcher this upcoming season alongside Jose Treviño.
The two could platoon based on hitting matchups, but Wells displayed substantial potential over 19 games with the Yankees at the end of the 2023 season. Wells finished hitting .229/.257/.486, including four homers and 13 RBIs. However, his final two weeks were inspiring, hitting .289 with a 161 wRC+.
Wells not only offers solid offensive upside, but his defense behind the dish improved significantly. Sending Jones and Wells for Luzardo would be quite the package, and I certainly wouldn’t be signing up to push it through.
[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]
Marlins Gives: Jesus Luzardo
With the Yankees giving up two solid players with substantial upside, they return Jesus Luzardo in the process.
At 26 years old, Luzardo will be a free agent in 2027, and the Yankees would have control for the next three years. Last season, he pitched 178.2 innings, hosting a 3.58 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 10.48 strikeouts per nine, a 74.9% left-on-base rate, and a 40.2% ground ball rate. He is a solid pitcher with the upside to be even better, featuring an upper 90s fastball and elite slider.
The fear is that Luzardo has injury problems in the past but has pitched two consecutive years of over 100 innings. While it is inspiring, the Yankees may be better off spending on Jordan Montgomery and keeping some of their top prospects, especially one who expects to make a significant impact this upcoming season.