As the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, more and more names seem to be disappearing from the Yankees’ target list of starting pitchers. Namely, in the last few weeks, Jacob DeGrom and Patrick Corbin have fallen off as options. Degrom has because the Yankees might not be willing to give up as much as the New York Mets want for him, and Corbin because the Diamondbacks are in contention and have no reason to trade a rotation piece at the moment. DeGrom is not totally out of the question but he is for the sake of this article. So, let’s look at just a few of the starting pitching options that are still out there for the Yankees to acquire.
The St. Louis Cardinals have had a disappointing season, to say the least. They just fired Mike Matheny, and sit at one game over .500, 8.5 games out of first place in the National League Central and 4.5 games out of a second-place wild card spot. Though they are by no means totally out of it, they have a tough hill to climb if they want to sneak into the postseason. If they were to become quasi-sellers at the deadline, then Carlos Martinez should be somebody that the Yankees look at.
Martinez is 26-years old and has an extremely team-favorable contract. He is signed through 2023 for about 11 million dollars per year, with club options for 2022 and 2023. Throughout his career, Martinez has been about a 3 WAR player. This year, he has been a 1.2 WAR player, so he is pitching at just about where his contract says he should be. Nonetheless, there is a lot of potential for him to out-play his contract, as his past years have shown. Martinez also profiles well as a fit to pitch at Yankee Stadium. He is 12th in the Majors in groundball percentage at 49.4 % and is second in the Majors in HR/FB at 5.8%. He is not known to be a big strikeout pitcher, however, which is something that could be a turn off for the Yankees, and he also has the third-worst BB/9. His BB/9 usually sits at 3.0-3.5, but is now at 4.5. If he can find a way to limit the walks, then he would be a no-brainer acquisition for the Yankees, but it’s not likely that he would be a cheap pickup by any means.
Here’s another name that I am shocked has not been mentioned in many trade rumors involving the Yankees. Clayton Richard is a year removed from free agency, and he will be earning three million dollars in 2019, with plenty of personal achievement incentives, before hitting the open market. Richard profiles very similarly to Carlos Martinez, but he is a lot cheaper, would come a lot cheaper, produces a lot of ground balls, prevents home runs, and does not strike many people out.
Clayton Richard is 12th in the Majors in HR/9 with a .80 clip, very first in the league in GB% at 57%, and does not walk very many batters with a clip of 3.41 BB/9. As opposed to Martinez, Richard has a higher HR/FB at around 14%, but that is expected when a pitcher is so reliant on the ground ball. Richard profiles as a ground-ball heavy starting pitcher and he would likely be cheaper than Martinez at the deadline. Don’t be surprised if he pops up on the Yankees’ radar in the next couple of weeks.
As you can see, the last two names I have mentioned have been more low-profile pitching options that I think Brian Cashman would have interest in. The Yankees usually do not go for the big name at the deadline, like Verlander last season. Instead, they try to go in a different direction, which ended up with them trading for Sonny Gray. Gibson is another cheap option, as he has one more year of arbitration left, that could be a good addition to the Yankees’ rotation. He is a strong groundball pitcher that has a respectable 8.87 K/9. Gibson has a solid 3.42 ERA and could be the under the radar kind of option that Cashman goes after. The Twins are nowhere near contending, and they could get at least some return for a sub 3.50 ERA pitcher with a year left of arbitration. After all, Gibson is 20th in WAR amongst pitchers this season, and that is nothing to scoff at especially when you see the names that are just ahead of him.
The Yankees need to add an arm, and since it seems like they will not be willing to part ways with any of their very top prospects, the pitchers listed in this article seem like viable options. They have all flown under the radar, for the most part, this season, maybe except for Martinez, and could be nice additions to a rather depleted Yankees rotation. Martinez is probably the most pipe-dream option for the Yanks, but it is not out of the question. As for Richard and Gibson, we might just see either of those guys in a Yankee uniform sooner rather than later.