The Yankees steered clear of spending big to land Manny Machado, and instead have their focus on pitching as GM Brian Cashman said was the plan all along. There’s no shortage of arms on the market that are available for the right price, but Cashman has been adamant that the Yankees will not overspend, and they will not move certain key prospects. That means that some of the best arms out there might be off the table, but there are still some very solid pitchers the Bronx Bombers can add to their staff if the price is right.
Former Yankee Ivan Nova isn’t eligible for free agency for another year and knows what pitching in New York is all about. If Pittsburgh slides a little further from contending, Nova is likely to get shopped around thanks to his June resurgence. The only hitch is that Nova has a guaranteed contract with about $12 million still on the plate which isn’t what Cashman usually goes for, but that Yankees pedigree may keep him in the mix if a better deal doesn’t come through.
James Shields looks like a good fit on paper, and despite his huge contract, there is a $2 million buyout after this season that makes him a bit more attractive, but that means there is $7.3 million total on the table which seems higher than Cashman wants to go. On the other hand, Shields is a solid arm that has been turning in good starts and wouldn’t be a question mark in the rotation.
Cole Hamels is on the trade market and has the best pedigree of everyone being made available, but he comes with about $11 million on the books this season and an option or buyout for next year that’s $6 million, and that seems way over the Yankees budget right now. That said, for a legitimate difference maker, the vault could open. That is even more likely if Texas would eat a little of the salary. For the price of a mid-tier prospect, they might be able to get Texas to pick a million or more up. Hamels will likely go back to Philadelphia, Cashman isn’t starry eyed for him, but he is an outside possibility depending on how bad Texas wants to shed his contract.
Matt Harvey is one of the odds-on favorites because he will only cost a bit over $2 million the rest of this season, and Cincinnati will likely move him for 3 or 4 mid-range pitching prospects. He’s been more consistent since the Reds picked him up from the Mets, and that might be enough to make him “the guy” for the Yankees this summer, or potentially one of a pair of pickups thanks to him being affordable.
J.A. Happ would be fairly easy for New York to obtain according to NJ.com. They would assume about $6 million in salary for him this year, but he beats the Red Sox consistently and that matters. He has ace type stuff, but struggles against some of the weaker lineups. The big thing about Happ is he will be a free agent after this season and Toronto wants to get something back for him right now while the selling is good. If New York eats the whole contract, the price in talent will be negligible to them.
That leaves Carlos Martinez to look at. In the second season of a five-year contract, Martinez looks like the guy because his contract is structured in a way that most other arms on the market are not. New York would have to pick up a bit over $5 million this season, but his big payments on the deal aren’t due until his last two seasons. To add to that, his buyouts on either of those two seasons are only $500,000, with salaries of $17 million and $18 million per season respectively, and that is a very attractive contract. New York would have the ability to move him after the season, or keep him at a cost of $11.5 million per season through 2021, or extend him until 2023.
The Yankees will have to give up a stud prospect like Estevan Florial and three or more solid prospects that are very close to being ready to make the jump to the bigs. That might be more than Cashman wants to spend, but it is unlikely he can get an ace for a deal better than this. This is the move that makes the most sense for both teams
With all that said, don’t be surprised if the Yankees make a move to try to acquire Zach Britton from Baltimore according to Bronx Pinstripes. While Peter Angelos has been historically loathed to trade stars to other AL East teams, particularly the Yankees, Cashman could make him an offer he can’t refuse. While Britton is the stud closer left on the market and not necessarily the Yankees priority, more pitching never hurts, and an extra closer is always a good thing. Add to that blocking Houston from getting a closer, and this is a move that makes sense for New York to look at. But this only happens if Angelos is willing to make a deal that doesn’t force Cashman to overpay by too much.