SportsPulse: MLB insider Bob Nightengale discusses the MLB All-Star rosters and points out one glaring snub.
Manny Machado is one of the greatest players on the planet, but unless he has hidden pitching talents, he really makes little sense for the New York Yankees.
New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is the finest pitcher on the trade market, who would dramatically impact the AL East race like no other, but unless the Mets suddenly are overcome with benevolence towards their New York neighbors, he’s not leaving Queens.
So what’s baseball’s most famous and powerful baseball franchise to do as the Yankees watch the runaway Boston Red Sox expand their lead to 3 ½ games in the AL East race — their largest since April 30?
The urgent message sent out to the Yankees’ scouts: “Find some pitching boys. And please hurry!’’
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The Yankees, who have lost two of three games this week to the woeful Baltimore Orioles, with you-know-who hitting two homers against them Tuesday, need help.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ace, a No. 3 starter, or a middle reliever, the Yankees need some pitching if they want to hang with the Red Sox (64-29), who are on pace to win 111 games.
The Yankees have only the sixth-best ERA (3.90) among starters in the American League, and if you take away ace Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA), their ERA is 4.51, which would be the ninth-worst in baseball.
Simply, outside Severino and CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.34 ERA), who turns 38 in two weeks, the Yankees don’t have anyone they can rely upon when they reach the postseason, and they painfully know it.
The Yankees now have the safety net of the wild-card berth, but who wants to stake their entire season on a one-game, wild-card game against the Seattle Mariners and James Paxton?
The Yankees have sent an army of scouts to canvass the landscape, with one of the richest farm systems in baseball to spare, but according to club officials and executives familiar with their strategy, they’re having trouble identifying who’s best equipped to get them past the Red Sox.
The Yankees privately say that their interest in Machado is overblown. They’d sure love to have him as a free agent this winter, and Machado has told friends the Yankees are easily his first choice, but to grab Machado now without bolstering their pitching staff makes no sense.
Now, if they need to trade rookie third baseman rookie Miguel Andujar for pitching help, and the Yankees need a replacement at third, they’re are in. The Yankees conceivably could trade Andujar in a package to the Orioles for Machado, starter Kevin Gausman and closer Zach Britton, but you really think that Orioles owner Peter Angelos could sleep comfortably at night knowing the Orioles could be directly responsible for a potential 28th World Series championship?
The Yankees could have had Justin Verlander a year ago, and passed on Yu Darvish, too, who went to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer and is now on the DL with the Chicago Cubs. They could have had Gerrit Cole during the winter, but they blinked at the price, and watched the Houston Astros swoop in and get the Cy Young candidate.
Their dream would be to get their hands on deGrom, or even Noah Syndergaard, but they don’t believe they’re going anywhere in their talks with the Mets, let alone to the Bronx. The Mets are willing to part with Zack Wheeler, 2-6, 4.42, but he’s hardly the guy who draws fear in October baseball.
Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer or Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer, who they could control through 2021, are atop their wish list after deGrom, but they’re balking at the hefty prospect price tag. If the Arizona Diamondbacks were out of the race, free-agent-to-be Patrick Corbin, a New York native, would be the perfect fit. Sorry, the D-backs are in first place in the NL West, and Corbin is staying put for the rest of this season.
The San Francisco Giants have let the Yankees know that veteran Jeff Samardzija is available, but he’s still owed $46 million, and the Yankees fear that their short right-field porch would be a death trap for Samardzija.
Texas Rangers veteran Cole Hamels (4-8, 4.28 ERA) certainly is an option, and New York is not on his no-trade list, but he’s still owed about $16 million for the rest of the year and his 2019 buyout. But Hamels has given up 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings in his last three starts. The Yankees believe he’s much more suited for the National League at this stage of his career.
Really, their best starting option may be Toronto Blue Jays veteran J.A. Happ. Yes, the same guy who was torched for six runs and 10 baserunners in 2 2/3 innings when the Yankees last saw him Saturday, but could be a stabilizing force down the stretch. Happ, 35, not only has vast experience in the AL East, but has had plenty of success against the Red Sox, going 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 18 games, including a 4-1 record and 3.16 ERA in eight games at Fenway Park.
The Yankees would only have to pay about $6 million on the final year of his contract, give up a mid-range prospect, and Happ is all theirs for the stretch run.
If the Yankees acquire Happ, they would not only would still have plenty of money to stay under the $197 million luxury tax, but have plenty of prospects to deepen what’s already the nastiest bullpen in all of the land. They have been heavily scouting Britton or Brad Brach of Baltimore, Raisel Iglessas of Cincinnati, and Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. Can you imagine adding one of the trio to go with Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, David Robertson and Dellin Betances?
The Yankees could turn their starters into middle relievers with a dynamic quintet like that sitting in the bullpen.
The Yankees, you can be assured, will have a different pitching staff in three weeks.
Who knows where Machado ultimately winds up before the July 31 deadline – most likely with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers or Arizona Diamondbacks, but come April, he’ll be wearing pinstripes.
The way the Yankees envision it, he’ll be on hand watching their World Series ring ceremony, too.
He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given. – Proverbs 19:17
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