In eleven days, the MLB Trade Deadline will come upon us. Will the New York Yankees be buyers or sellers? Will the Yankees be silent like last year?
What do the Yankees need at the deadline?
These options come to mind.
Long Relievers/Bullpen Help
It’s unfortunate to mention this, but the bullpen needs to be addressed. It’s nothing against the late-inning relievers in the likes of Adam Ottavino and Aroldis Chapman. But, they need support. Tommy Kahnle is out for the rest of the year after having Tommy John surgery. Zack Britton landed himself on the injured list with a tight hamstring.
The Yankees have a lot of young relievers. It’s nice to have a mix of veteran and young depth on a roster. But not when they’re underperforming when needed to step up. For example, instead of trying to stop the bleeding in the 6th inning, 31-year old veteran southpaw Luis Avilán gave up a three-run home run to Mike Zunino. The situation was bloated by Ottavino, but nonetheless Avilan needed to get the job done. This would seal the deal as the Yankees lost 10-5.
In February, the Yankees signed Luis Avilan to a minor league contract. His contract was selected shortly before the season restarted in July. In 10 games, Avilan has pitched to a 4.32 earned run average and has given up nine hits, and walked 5 batters in 8.1 innings pitched. With the Mets in 2019, Avilan was horrendous, pitching to a 5.06 earned run average and giving up 33 hits in 32 innings pitched. His best years are behind him. He was last truly reliable in his time with the Braves.
Young Relief Pitchers
For the young guys, they’ve got some room for improvement. Michael King has pitched to a 6.59 earned run average and has given up 10 hits in 13 innings in 4 games. King developed as a starter in the minor leagues. Figures, King would be well stretched. But, he really hasn’t adjusted to the big leagues as well as people thought.
Luis Cessa remains a liability. He’s already given up four runs in seven innings. Unsurprisingly, Cessa has never pitched to an ERA below 4. No long reliever really dominates but Cessa has stayed consistent at being sub-par.
Jonathan Holder continues to regress as a middle reliever. He had a down year last year, pitching to a putrid 6.31 ERA. Unsurprisingly, Holder is still being hit hard, giving up 10 hits in 9 innings. Holder is pitching to a ERA below 3. He remains a liability.
Jonathan Loaisiga has actually been a solid piece out of the bullpen. In six games, he’s pitching to a 2.77 ERA. Opponents have hit .217 against him. Loaisiga had a rocky previous two seasons, pitching to inflated earned run averages over 5.
It’s okay to have a young core but not when it’s based around a underrated position. It’s clear the young guys haven’t performed in the long reliever role. The Yankees remain a win-now team and will continue to be until the window runs out. If it’s worth something, trade some of these young relievers to a team for better long relief pitchers. There are teams looking for youth.
Over the past three years, starting pitching has become a topic of conversation for the Yankees around the trade deadline.
In 2018, the Yankees would acquire J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays. As of now, he’s a liability in the back end of the rotation.
In 2019, the Yankees didn’t trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline, coming to the scrutiny of fans.
Concerns Over Starting Pitching Now
The team shouldn’t be concerned with the front end of the rotation. Gerrit Cole has yet to lose a game and Masahiro Tanaka has only had one terrible start, despite his numbers. Jordan Montgomery looks like himself from 2017 and continues to be reliable.
The same cannot be said for J.A. Happ and James Paxton. Happ is a liability. Paxton is a shell of his former self. J.A. Happ is pitching to a 6.39 earned run average in just three starts. He faltered against the Phillies on August 5, giving up six walks, four runs and three hits in just three innings. Happ is a free agent after the season and the Yankees would be foolish to ever re-sign him.
Paxton has faltered in both starts against the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. In today’s start, he would pitch four perfect innings before giving up three runs in the top of the 5th, ending his day. On August 9, James Paxton would six shutout innings, striking out 11, before giving up back-to-back home runs to Mike Brosseau and Brandon Lowe to tie the game at 3.
Paxton is a free agent this offseason and it will be interesting to see if the Yankees attempt to re-sign him. Masahiro Tanaka is also a free agent but has pitched better.
If the Yankees don’t target these areas come the trade deadline, they won’t be able to win the World Series.