The New York Yankees have several positions they need to supplement this off-season, and starting pitching remains a significant one. Of course, the retention of DJ LeMahieu will take over headlines until the deal is evidently finalized unless an alternative team swoops in and steals him away.
However, general manager Brian Cashman has kept his eyes forward, looking to acquire cheaper talent and not break the bank on “white whale” signings.
Rumors have bubbled to the surface involving a potential trade between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates, including first baseman Josh Bell and righty Jameson Taillon. Whether or not this deal is in the works is yet to be seen, but both are either coming off injury-riddled seasons or inadequate campaigns. It seems as if the Yankees are taking a Tampa Bay approach to their offseason, looking for cheaper players who can fill a specific need analytically.
Heard today from a couple sources that the Pirates and Yankees have had conversations involving Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell. Unsure on seriousness or scope, but it’s an interesting match.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 9, 2020
Bell is an interesting player at 28 years old, being a former second-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011. He has played five seasons at the top level with Pittsburgh and has had some significant success in recent years. In 2019, Bell finish with a .277 average, 37 homers, and 116 RBIs. With a 19.2% strikeout rate, heâ€™s actually a fantastic hitter that had a down 2020 campaign.
A large portion of players had problematic 2020 seasons, considering the effects of Covid and a disrupted season. Nonetheless, Bell is a solid offensive player who is a bit problematic on the defensive side of the ball. Heâ€™s very similar to Luke Voit in stature, but Voit has managed to improve his defense gradually over the past few seasons.
It is possible the Yankees see him as a potential rotational option with Voit to keep him healthy over the course of a 162 game season. This past year, he played in 35 games at first base with a .984 fielding percentage, four errors, and 22 double plays turned. In 2019 had a career-high 13 errors over 134 games, which is nothing to be concerned about but has struggled with bouncers on occasion.
Overall, I think the acquisition of Bell would be a massive benefit for the Yankees, who are always looking to add home runs to their lineup one way or another.
Taillon is a righty pitcher who finished the 2019 season with a 4.10 ERA and 49.6% ground ball rate. After enduring Tommy John surgery, heâ€™s looking to make a return and would be a cheap acquisition for the Bombers.
He is a solid pitcher for Yankee Stadium, considering his ground ball rate and low home run to fly ball ratio of 12.9% two seasons ago. He primarily utilizes a fastball, slider, and curveball. With Tommy Kahnle electing to test free agency, Taillon is a solid alternative that would fit nicely in the bullpen.
Luke Voit voices his opinion on the DJ LeMahieu contract negotiations narrative:
“If I was a gambling man, I’d want to put money on DJ coming back,” Voit said on Wednesday. “I think he wants to be back. I hope he’s back because he’s one of the best players in baseball, one of the best hitters I ever played with. I want him in the pinstripes for the rest of his career.”
LeMahieu has openly stated he desires to return to the Yankees, but he wants a five-year deal, and Cashman is only willing to offer four years. Money doesnâ€™t seem to be the problem here, but DJ wants to cash in long-term and stick around for a while. The Yankees already have several contracts beyond five years, so they are looking to stay on the advantageous side of this negotiation.