The single July 31 trade deadline is less than two weeks away. The first-place New York Yankees are expected to be among the most active teams prior to the deadline, and in fact, they've already been busy. , and, more recently, .
As always, pitching will be the top priority for the Yankees prior to the deadline. They are still without ace Luis Severino, who is rehabbing his shoulder/lat injury and is weeks away from joining the team. :
"Our interest is improving our pitching. Certainly the target would be to continue to reinforce the rotation because obviously that's where the majority of your innings are going to have to come from, and we have a long way to go. Those innings are vitally important. We're going to target starting pitching, and if not, we're going to continue to reinforce the bullpen. Bottom line is just trying to add quality to what we already have."
There is no slam dunk ace on the trade market this summer. No Justin Verlander, no Cole Hamels, no one like that. There are several quality pitchers available, however, and it seems like only a matter of time until the Yankees land someone. Who? I'm not sure, exactly. But the Yankees adding a starting pitcher feels like an inevitability.
Since the trade deadline is rapidly approaching, we here are CBS Sports are going to rank the top 10 trade targets for various contending teams these next two weeks, starting today with the Yankees. Here are the 10 best fits for the Yankees leading up to July 31.
Marcus Stroman Toronto Blue Jays SP
Key stat: 57.9 percent ground ball rate (second highest in baseball)
Marcus Stroman has made it no secret he would welcome the opportunity to play in New York. "I'm built for this. Anybody can say whatever, but I'm built for the bright lights. I'm not scared of it," . The native New Yorker talks the talk, if nothing else.
The Blue Jays are going to sell at the deadline and Stroman, with his extreme ground ball tendencies and extra year of control in 2020, makes him attractive to every team. The Yankees and Blue Jays hooked up for the J.A. Happ trade last year, so trading within the AL East shouldn't be an issue. It's just a matter of finding common ground.
Between his age (28), his familiarity with the division, his Yankee Stadium-friendly ground ball ability, and the extra year of control, Stroman stands out as the best trade fit for a Yankees team that needs rotation depth more than a rotation savior.
Mike Minor Texas Rangers SP
Key stat: 2,649 rpm fastball average spin rate (fourth highest in baseball)
. He's been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year and he's signed to an ultra-affordable contract any team can afford. Minor is not a rental and he's versatile enough to pitch in relief, if necessary.
The Yankees are one of the most analytically inclined organizations in baseball and Minor offers top of the line spin rates across the board. He may not bring the elite strikeout or ground ball rate, but that spin and his veteran savvy allows him to miss the barrel. Minor would be an upgrade to New York's rotation this year and next, even if he isn't the sexiest name out there.
Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants SP
Key stat: 25.9 percent strikeout rate in last 14 starts
A few weeks ago, the best thing you could say about Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner as a trade candidate was that he might be rejuvenated by a postseason push, and perform well down the stretch. Now, after pitching to a 3.65 ERA in his last 14 starts, teams looking to add Bumgarner no longer have to hope an impact pitcher is still in there.
The strikeouts are up and the velocity is up, which is encouraging. The downside is Bumgarner has one of the highest hard-hit rates allowed in baseball (41.3 percent), so when he doesn't miss bats, opponents tend to hit the ball very hard. In spacious Oracle Park, he can get away with it. In homer happy Yankee Stadium (and in the DH league)? Maybe not.
Still, Bumgarner is a battle-tested veteran, and there's something to be said for knowing a guy won't shy away from a big moment. He may not be the pitcher he was a few years ago, but Bumgarner is not someone who will scare easily. There's value in that peace of mind.
Trevor Bauer Cleveland Indians SP
Key stat: 0.84 year over year increase in homers per nine innings (largest in baseball)
The Indians seem poised to buy and sell at the deadline this year, and Trevor Bauer is most likely to go given his impending huge 2020 arbitration salary. Bauer has been good this year but not as great as last year, largely because his home run rate has nearly tripled from 0.46 HR/9 to 1.30 HR/9. .
For the Yankees, the larger concern with Bauer may be his off-the-field behavior. He's a frequent social media user who has gotten himself into hot water, and the Yankees try like crazy to avoid distractions. Few pitchers can match Bauer's potential, but there are other quality starters on the market, and the Yankees may opt for someone they feel more comfortable with off-the-field.
Robbie Ray Arizona Diamondbacks SP
Key stat: 30.6 percent strikeout rate since 2016 (third highest in baseball)
There will always be a demand for hard-throwing lefties who miss bats,. The Yankees have been connected to him at various points throughout the years, so there's longstanding interest here, which makes sense. New York loves power arms.
More than anything, the question is how much the Yankees are willing to tolerate high walk and high home run rates. Ray walks a lot of hitters and he gives up a lot of homers. A lot. Move him into Yankee Stadium and the homer problem may only get worse. That said, power lefties are worth a shot. The Yankees may be willing to live with the walks and dingers to get the strikeouts.
Matthew Boyd Detroit Tigers SP
Key stat: 32.1 percent strikeout rate (fourth highest in baseball)
The Yankees tend to target pitchers who are elite at something. It may not always work out -- Sonny Gray was among the league leaders in strikeout rate and ground ball rate when they acquired him -- but that's their thinking. James Paxton is one of the game's top strikeout pitchers, for example. Stroman's grounders, Minor's spin rate, Ray's strikeouts, etc.
Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd has a carrying tool in his top notch strikeout rate. Few pitchers miss this many bats, and, as an added bonus, Boyd will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2022. It is very long-term control of a very good pitcher. .
Boyd would of course be a good fit for the Yankees, though the reason he doesn't rank higher on this list is the asking price. Michael Fulmer?) and push the Yankees to look elsewhere.. The thinking here is the Tigers will stick to their high asking price (remember
Tony Watson San Francisco Giants RP
Key stat: 31.7 percent hard contact rate (top 30 in MLB)
Understandably, the focus is on the Yankees adding rotation help. The Dellin Betances injury and Jonathan Holder's regression means New York has an opening in the bullpen, however, and there are rumblings the Yankees will seek another reliever. They don't need a high-leverage dominator (Kirby Yates, Brad Hand, etc.), necessarily. Just more depth.
The Yankees tried to sign Tony Watson two years ago and his high ground ball/low walk approach would fit nicely in the middle innings alongside all those power strikeout righties. Throw in a very luxury tax friendly contract and you have a sneaky excellent fit. Don't be surprised if Watson, not Bumgarner, is the Giants lefty the Yankees add at the deadline.
Tanner Roark Cincinnati Reds SP
Key stat: 11 home runs in his last seven starts and 40 2/3 innings
The home run regression monster was going to bite Reds righty Tanner Roark at some point, and it's bit him hard the last seven starts. Roark remains a quality innings eater, however. He's someone who can bolster the back-end of a contender's rotation, but not necessarily lead them to glory. He's also an impending free agent.
The Yankees are looking for impact more than depth, but there's no such thing as too much pitching, and Roark would be a fine innings guy down the stretch. He won't beat himself with walks and he'll miss enough bats to limit the damage from all those home runs. If all else fails, Roark could be a lower-cost pickup on July 31.
Zack Wheeler New York Mets SP
Key stat: 96.9 mph average fastball velocity (third highest in baseball)
The Yankees and Mets rarely get together for trades, but, in this case, Zack Wheeler is an impending free agent and I think the Mets will take whatever they can get for him, . His trade value is in the tank. If the Yankees come along with the best offer, the Mets would be foolish to pass.
Before the injury Wheeler was more stuff than results. He still has a huge fastball and a wide array of secondary pitches,, and it holds him back. Between the shoulder injury and the fact the Yankees and Mets don't do business often, the guess here is Wheeler is a last resort for the Yankees. Hard to see them making a serious push for him now.
Noah Syndergaard New York Mets SP
Key stat: 0 (number of Yankees-Mets trades since 2004)
In a vacuum, Mets righty Noah Syndergaard is a wonderful fit for the Yankees. He's young (26), he comes with multiple years of team control, he brings the kind of high-octane power stuff teams crave, and he showed well in the postseason a few years back. Build a pitcher in a lab and he'd come out looking awfully close to Syndergaard.
This isn't a vacuum though, and even ignoring Syndergaard's underwhelming year, there is close to zero chance the Wilpons would sign off on a Yankees-Mets trade of his magnitude. They wouldn't even give the thumbs up to a Jay Bruce salary dump in 2017. I need to see a big Yankees-Mets trade to believe it'll happen. Syndergaard would be a good fit though. For sure. He'd rank much higher on this list if I had any reason to think a trade were actually possible.