Yankees In On Return To Sender Package For A Number Three Starter

Mike Clevinger: Yankees Trade Target

The Yankees do not have a healthy number 3 starter. The Cleveland Indians have one and huge holes in their outfield. This is Brian’s song.

The Yankees will be dipping slowly into their roster this week to come up with starting pitchers following the one-two punch of Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka.

Doubleheaders are on the way as make-up games, and Aaron Boone remains cautious as to naming starters to fill the void left by injuries.

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In five starts, James Paxton has managed only 21 innings and is 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA. He’s currently on the Injured List and unable to help the Yankees soon.

It’s not that the Yankees don’t have some good pitchers in their system, they do. But it’s questionable that any of them fit the bill of a number three, especially with the Playoffs looming in a few weeks.

Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga will see action. Still, after that, it’s a question of picking and choosing for Boone between talented but largely untested pitchers like Mike King, Luis Cessa, Albert Abreu, and Clarke Schmidt, who is not even on the Yankees roster.

Much like the Yankees, the Cleveland Indians have a 99.5% chance of making the 2020 playoffs. The only mystery is how far each team will go with their current team construction.

The Indians have no outfield. Jordan Luplow, Domingo Santana, Mike Freeman, and Greg Allen are all at or below the Mendoza Line (.200). Their entire outfield, including Delino DeShields, has a total of twelve home runs. They need help, and they know it.

When Brian Cashman Sees An Opening…

This is where Brian Cashman sees an opening to pursue a trade with the Indians on or before Monday’s deadline. The Yankees are blessed with a plethora of talented outfielders.

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Keeping them all healthy is another issue, but Cashman’s mission is always to improve the Yankees anytime he can.

The two leading players in the trade are Mike Clevinger and Clint Frazier. Cleveland is likely to ask for one or two Yankees prospects in addition to Frazier.

Clint Frazier is a former number one draft choice of the Indians who came to the Bronx via a trade for Andrew Miller in 2016.

Frazier’s time with the Yankees has been volatile on occasion, and he always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when call-up decisions were made.

Returning “home” of sorts gives Frazier a spot in the Indians’ everyday lineup and a power bat to lend the Indians.

Mike Clevinger isn’t much to talk about this season, but as the table below shows, he has the pedigree of a pitcher any team would covet.

Mike Clevinger, Yankees Trade Target (Source: Baseball-Reference)
Mike Clevinger, Yankees Trade Target (Source: Baseball-Reference)

Minus Cleveland’s desperate need for some outfield offense, It’s not likely Clevinger would even be considered in a trade. But good teams do what they need to do.

Yankees’ Magic Man Steps Into Action

True to form, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is moving with stealth and precision in talks with Mike Chernoff, the Indians’ General Manager.

Brian Cashman, Yankees GM (Photo: Charles Wenzelberg)
Brian Cashman, Yankees GM (Photo: Charles Wenzelberg)

If and when a deal is conceived, we’ll be the last to know.

This is why Cashman is so successful in working out trade partners. Teams trust him not to grandstand in the media.

This method also ensures the same level of trust when deals fall through – because both sides can pretend a trade was never discussed in the first place.

Players love this too, and no player likes to see his name tossed around loosely as someone his team is ready to part with him.

The Yankees And Plan B

The other option always on the table for the Yankees is to stand pat, as they did last season, even in the wake of mounting injuries.

Plan B - Brian Cashman Always Has One
Plan B – Brian Cashman Always Has One

The team can hope that James Paxton bounces back to re-assume his title as the Yankees’ number three starter in time for the playoffs, which begin in round-robin fashion with a best of three series.

Paxton not only needs to bounce back physically but mentally as well. His recent comments to New York newspapers sound more like an excuse, and not what we’d expect from the consummate pro the Yankees brought to the Bronx.

Specifically, Paxton feels like the shortened preseason did not give him enough time to work on each of his pitches to make them game-ready. Pointing to his changeup, Paxton told the New York Daily News:

“I think it was just the fact that I was trying a lot of changeups, and I’m just not used to throwing that many changeups,” Paxton explained.

Yankees Put Cashman To The Test Again

Whatever the reason, the Yankees have precious little time to fix his or the team’s problem.

Mike Clevinger is an answer, but it will take all the skill Brian Cashman has to pry him away from the Indians before another team swoops in to land him.

That season-ending injury suffered by Luis Severino sure was a killer – wasn’t it?

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.