AL East

Examining the New York Yankees Potential Pitching Targets at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline

Cole Hamels, scratched from Thursday's scheduled start, is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his past four starts. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have lived up to its high expectations as the second half of the Major League Baseball season began this weekend. The Yankees under first year manager Aaron Boone have been anchored by its bats and the top end of its rotation as they sit in the overall standings with one of the top three overall records in baseball.

The combination of the production of its veteran stars Aaron Judge and newcomer 2017 MVP Giancarlo Stanton along with the emergence of rookie second basemen star Gleyber Torres and third basemen Miguel Andujar have been huge for the Yankees lineup keeping them outpacing teams at the plate everyday. The Yankees rotation has been strong from the top anchored by Cy Young candidate Luis Severino, but the back-end of the rotation is where the team has shuffled around its options due to injury and performance.

One of the more undervalued losses of the season for the Yankees was losing second year left hander Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery after his sixth start of the season. Montgomery played a huge role in the Yankees success in the 2017 regular season that helped them get to the ALCS in the playoffs and a game away from the world series.

This spot in the rotation has been filled by hard throwing Domingo German who has shown potential, but is simply not ready for this big stage yet and needs the development back in Triple A which has shown to paid off with patience as Severino has proven. The Yankees have also received help from Jonathan Loaisiga, who they called up directly from Double A and spot starter Luis Cessa from Triple A who has started for the team in the past, but these two options are not enough to stay in the AL East division race.  Sonny Gray’s inconsistencies have also left question marks at the end of the rotation for the Yankees.

The Yankees have other internal options in their farm system such as the number two prospect in their system and number 39 overall prospect in baseball with hard throwing lefty Justus Sheffield. Sheffield has risen through the yankees farm system to Triple A and has performed well, but they have been very strong on not rushing his development as he is seen as a part of their long-term future in its rotation. The Yankees number four overall prospect Chance Adams was considered as one of the next options for the big leagues, but he is not having strong season for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Triple A and needs more time.

While the Yankees flirted around with new Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado, the focus of their 2018 trade deadline needs to be strengthening the bottom of its pitching rotation. The starting pitching options at this years trade deadline are underwhelming compared to the past, but there are options the Yankees should consider pursuing that would not cost top prospects from its deep farm system which they want to preserve.

The Yankees have been rumored to have interest in J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays who is having an All Star season with a 10-6 record and 4.29 era and would not be a long-term financial commitment for the Yankees with an affordable expiring contract at the end of this season. The Yankees still want to be under the luxury tax line and Happ would fit this requirement.

Lance Lynn of the Minnesota Twins would represent an option for the Yankees betting its chance on the player on his past success. Lynn has had an up and down season with inflated earned run averages in April and July with a total average of 8.10, but a serviceable earned run average in May and June with a total average of 3.30. Lynn has been through playoff races in the past so this would not be too much of a stage for him and has an expiring contract as well.

Matt Harvey of the Cincinnati Reds has been putting together a strong stretch of starts with a 1.86 ERA in his past five starts and has pitched well against teams in the playoff race. Harvey’s statistics are intriguing and would be a good fit on a competing team at the back-end of its rotation, but Harvey back in New York may not be the best idea and is a situation the Yankees should look to avoid.

The big name starters of New York Mets Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard to Tampa Bay Rays Chris Archer and San Francisco Giants Madison Bumgarner would all be huge upgrades for the Yankees rotation in theory. In reality, the Mets seem to be holding on to its star pitchers and for a deal to be completed with the Rays the Yankees would have to likely overpay to a division rival. The Giants are not out of the playoff race as well and moving on from Bumgarner would represent a shift to rebuilding after making moves for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria this offseason so this would not stick with the current state of their team plans.

The most intriguing option for the New York Yankees is former World Series champion Cole Hamels currently of the Texas Rangers. Hamels fits all of the check marks that the Yankees need to fill a spot in its rotation. Hamels is not what he once was and is not having one of his most quality seasons, but in the current situation he is in with the Rangers it is hard to judge him on this as he has an overall quality track record and wants a competitive situation at the end of his career, which could help rejuvenate his performance. Hamels is clearly playoff tested being a former ace for the Philadelphia Phillies and was a huge reason that team won its championship. Hamels as the Yankees projected starter in the range of third to fifth starter would put him into better pitching matchups and with the Yankees lineup would overall be set up for way better success than his current situation. Hamels is affordable and the Yankees could surely make it work with him staying under the luxury tax threshold and has a team option for 2019 that gives the Yankees leverage if this situation happened to not work out.

With a weaker starting pitching market at this years trade deadline the Yankees are going to only find realistic trade options who are players they would be banking on their past success. Of the options available, taking this chance on a player like this is Cole Hamels. The Yankees want to conserve its farm system as they have tons of up and coming talent still to come and a trade for Hamels would not require high-end prospects to complete a deal.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is arguably the best at crafting together trades for the Yankees that work out in his favor to maintain everything he wants for the team’s future and keeping them competitive at a high level now. It will be exciting to see what decisions Cashman will make for the Yankees in these days leading up to the July 31st deadline.

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