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Cubs SP Matt Garza could be the Yankees’ best bet for pitching help (Photo Credit: MyCubsToday)
With exactly two weeks to go until Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, things are starting to get hectic. Brian Cashman has stated previously that he’s not looking to do anything extreme, but the news that Brett Gardner may be done for the season may change that point of view. Additionally, the Yankees could be in the market for upgrades, but at what cost? Many reports have the asking price for players such as Cole Hamels and Justin Upton more extreme than in years past for players of a similar quality. Cashman’s not looking to give away the farm, but if the price is right, an upgrade somewhere could be in the works – even for the best team in the American League. And yes, I’m well aware that I left Zack Greinke off this list. Let’s be realistic, his personality likely wouldn’t be a fit with the Yankees. He won’t be coming to New York any time soon.
Dellin Betances, SP, Yankees: Betances will be the only current Yankee to appear on this list. Reports emerged this morning that the Chicago White Sox have had a scouting presence at each of his past three starts and are interested in acquiring the 6-foot-8 right-hander. He’s pitched pretty well since heading to Trenton, going 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 20/7 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings. However, that doesn’t eliminate how poorly he pitched to start this season with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. For those who don’t remember, he led the International League in walks and was last in WHIP at the time of his demotion. I still think that Betances’ long-term future is in the bullpen, and with the hit his stock has taken this year, it’s hard to believe the Yankees could use him to get anywhere near market value. If the White Sox are the only team scouting him, he’ll stay put. But if, say, their cross-town rivals were to become interested, perhaps Betances could be used to spearhead a deal for Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. Chances that Betances stays put: 80%
Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks outfielder added the Yankees to his list of teams covered by a no-trade clause, but this is sometimes a procedural move, where Upton could use waiving his no-trade rights as a way to earn himself a contract extension in New York. Marc Craig of the Star-Ledger says that he was told by a person with knowledge that “nothing is going on” with Upton and the Yankees. It’s worth noting that Craig’s tweet was [literally] yesterday’s news, and Brett Gardner wasn’t considered to be possibly out for the season at that point. Ultimately, I think Upton will wind up somewhere like Pittsburgh, as I don’t think the Yankees can or will meet what his likely asking price will be. Chances of Upton in New York: 10%
Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies: The Phillies have been just awful this season, and it may be time for them to start selling off parts and trying to rebuild. One of those parts would be outfielder Shane Victorino and his $9.5 million salary. Victorino’s a speedster, and is currently 19-for-22 on the basepaths this year. However, he is having a bit of a down year at he plate, carrying a .251/.316/.389 line into today’s action. Either way, as a switch-hitter with speed and a solid glove, Victorino could be just what the doctor ordered for left field. His price tag won’t come cheap, but as a free agent at the end of the year, perhaps the Yankees could pull him away for the Phillies for the right price. Who knows, maybe the Phillies will like Betances enough to center the deal around him. Chances of Victorino in New York: 50%
Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies: The Yankees are one of the few teams where it would make sense for Hamels to go to this year. The 28-year old lefty has the potential to become one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball this offseason, so it wouldn’t make much sense for a small or mid-market team to acquire him. An All-Star this year, Hamels has pitched to an 11-4 record while recording a 3.07 ERA and a strikeout per inning over 18 starts. The biggest drawback to acquiring Hamels is that it will cost some major depth in the farm system, including but not limited to at least one of Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, or Manny Banuelos. With no guarantees of resigning Hamels, that may not be a price the Yankees are willing to pay. Chance of Hamels in New York: 30%
Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs: Here’s what we know: The Cubs are looking to take full advantage of the fact that Dempster hasn’t allowed a run since May 30th – a streak which spans 33 innings. Sporting a 5-3 record and a league-leading 1.86 ERA, Dempster looks like a completely different pitcher at age 35. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman revealed before that the Cubs appear to be looking for pitching in any deal for Dempster. My guess? It takes a minimum of Banuelos or Betances, and Jose Ramirez and another decent pitching prospect to get a deal done. For a 35-year old impending free agent who has spent his entire career in the National League, that’s not even close to a surefire improvement for the Yankees, and it comes at far too strong a price. The Yankees will probably keep an eye on this one until the very end, but likely won’t bite for the asking price, as they don’t see Dempster as much of an upgrade over their current rotation. Chance of Dempster in New York: 10%
Matt Garza, SP, Cubs: Garza is likely the best fit for the Yankees if they were to make a move and add some pitching. He is under team control through the end of next season, and has flown a bit under the radar this year with a far from stellar start to the season. Currently, the 28-year old is 5-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 17 starts. But Garza’s big draw is one which no other trade candidate has – three years of experience pitching in the American League East, which gives him a huge boost. The Cubs have stated that they’re looking to rebuild the young arms in their system, and this could be a great way for them to get their hands on a prospect such as Manny Banuelos. Depending on how absurd the asking price gets, this could be the Yankees best bet for an improvement in the rotation not only for this season, but next season as well. Chances of Garza in New York: 60%
Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins: There is always going to be a market for a potentially dominant left-handed starting pitcher. Especially when that pitcher goes out and strikes out fifteen hitters just a couple of weeks before the trading deadline. Liriano is just 28 years old, and with a 3-8 record to go along with his 4.93 ERA, it might not take as much to pry Liriano loose. At the same time, Liriano reminds me a lot of A.J. Burnett – when he’s on, he’s lights out. But when he’s off, he’s really, really bad. The Yankees seem to be interested in making a call, but really not much more than that. I don’t think Liriano moves, and if he does, I certainly don’t think it will be to the Bronx. Chances of Liriano in New York: 10%
Final thoughts: I didn’t include as many outfielders because the Gardner news broke just a few hours ago, and I don’t know that the Yankees have decided for certain which few outfielders to target. Ultimately, I believe Cashman should sit on his hands, stay away from the phone, and let the deadline come and go. At the same time, this is the New York Yankees we’re talking about – if Hamels’ asking price were to come down, he’d probably jump up to a 50/50 chance. If I had to say what they’re doing right now, I’d say the Yankees will make a serious run at Matt Garza, but ultimately wind up missing out on the former Rays pitcher.
Follow Dan on Twitter @danpfeiffer74 for the latest breaking news involving the New York Yankees.