Sunday, November 22, 2015

Someone's Gotta Go!

With all of the trade talk surrounding Brett Gardner, which includes the Yankees acquiring a starter, it surprises me that I have yet to hear any talk of the logjam in the Yankees' rotation. We already have six legit rotation candidates in Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren, and... yes... CC Sabathia. So something's gotta give.

"I don't know if I'd call CC 'legit'".

I'm pretty sure Brian Cashman has a plan, but what good would I be as a blogger if I just sat back and didn't try and guess what that plan was? Or, at least tell you what I think that plan should be? So let's take a look at each of those six rotation candidates, starting with those that I don't think are going anywhere.

CC Sabathia - Okay... imagine you're the general manager of a baseball team. Would you trade for a pitcher that is 35 years old, and over the past three years has an ERA of 4.81? Furthermore, that same pitcher, assuming his throwing shoulder stays healthy, is due $50 million over the next two years. Are you interested? No? Yeah... I didn't think so.

Masahiro Tanaka - So you don't want to trade for Sabathia. That's understandable. But how about a pitcher that is only 27 years old, and has a 3.16 ERA in 290.1 MLB innings? I see your ears perked up there. Oh, but I should tell you that this pitcher comes with a contract that has at least two years and $44 million remaining, and could very well jump to five years and $111 million remaining. How is that? Well, he can opt-out of his deal and become a free agent after the 2017 season. By the way, his elbow is kind of messed up too. *click* Damn.

Luis Severino - Alright, I'm not going to play the "you be a gm" game here. Hal Steinbrenner has said over and over again that his goal is to get the Yankees' payroll down, but at the same time the team wants to compete for a championship year in and year out. And for that to happen a team needs somebody like Severino. He's young, he's under team control for another six years, and his ceiling is that of an ace in the rotation. Luis is not going anywhere.

Now that we got through the pitchers that aren't going anywhere, I'm going to move on to a set of pitchers that I can see being traded, although I'd lean towards them remaining with the Yankees.

Ivan Nova - I don't believe the Yankees will deal Nova because that would be selling low. I think he's better than a 5+ ERA like he had last season, but I don't think he's a 3.10 ERA guy like in 2013 either. The truth, like in so many instances, is somewhere in the middle. Besides, 2016 is his final year before free agency, so other teams would view him as a possible one-year rental... which is not nearly as attractive as players under team control longer.

Adam Warren - I was going to predict he gets traded, seeing as how he's not free agent eligible until 2019, making him quite attractive. Adam's started 20 games and has an ERA of 3.98 in those, which would also stand out to a team wanting somebody for the middle to lower end of the rotation. However, out of the remaining rotation candidates, he's the only one with bullpen experience. And with so many candidates, someone's going to be a reliever, and my guess is Warren is that guy.

"Umm... did I not just say that I wanted to start?"

This next pitcher is somebody that I believe the Yankees wouldn't mind trading away at all, but the problem is that I don't see them getting enough in return to make it worth their while.

Nathan Eovaldi - after leading the National League with the most hits surrendered in 2014, Nathan actually gave up more hits per 9 innings in 2015 (10.1 to 10.2). Furthermore, his walk rate actually went up from 1.9 per 9 innings to 2.9. The good thing is his strikeout rate went up, however... like Nova... I believe the Yankees would be selling low here. Eovaldi is only 25 years old, so it's possible he has yet to reach his peak. All of which leads me to believe we'll be seeing more of Nathan in pinstripes next season.

So that leaves us with one more pitcher, and knowing how smart our readers are, you're likely saying "Bryan thinks the Yankees will trade away Michael Pineda"? Yes... I do.

Michael Pineda - So why would another team be interested in Michael? Well, for starters, he's not free agent eligible until 2018, giving the buying team two more years of team control on him. And going into his age 27 season, he's still young enough to where we may have not seen him peak. Therefore, he could not only be a solid starter in the middle of the rotation, he still has a peak as a strong #2. As for his injury history, having started 27 games last season makes him less of a risk. And then you have the fact that Michael walks very few batters, while carrying a respectable strikeout rate. I'd like to be able to hold onto Pineda, as I think he can be a nice addition to the rotation, but the numbers game is going to catch up to somebody, and I believe that "somebody" will be Mr. Pineda.

I have to mention that it wouldn't surprise me to see two of the following pitchers get traded. While I'm almost certain the Yankees will make a trade for a top of the rotation starter like Carlos Carrasco, I believe Adam Warren's ability to either start or relieve gives the team the ability to deal away two pitchers, and have a fall-back option should they miss out on somebody like Wei-Yin Chen.

But hearing more and more about the Yankees' desire to keep payroll down, I believe they would rather roll with Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation than dip into free agency and pay somebody like Chen around $80 million. Not to mention that any team wants to have some depth for the rotation. Which would lead to a starting rotation including Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, and whoever they acquire via trade.

That rotation, along with a bullpen that includes Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller, and an improved offense that includes Jason Heyward or Justin Upton replacing Brett Gardner in the outfield, would make... in my opinion... a true World Series contender.

Doesn't Jason look cute in a Yankees uniform*?
*that's a picture of Jason Heyward in Little League.

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