Yankees: It’s Time To Look At Trades For These Walk-Year Pitchers

Yankee Stadium Monument Park (Steve Contursi, Reflections On Baseball)

If the Yankees want to look at fortifying their rotation, they might look at trades for these high-performing pitchers in their walk-year.

It goes without saying the Yankees have greater needs in their lineup than in their starting staff this year. But it never hurts to add more pitching, outstanding pitching.

Soon, teams will be making decisions about whether or not they need to trade pitchers in their walk-year before reaching free agency after the conclusion of the World Series.

Decisions are typically made based on four factors:

  1. Can the team afford to pay the pitcher what he has earned and expect in the free market by his performance this year?
  2. Second, what is the team’s gauge on whether or not the pitcher would choose to return, even if they risked making an offer?
  3. Third, is it better to get something that is guaranteed in return now via trade, rather than risking the chance of losing him as a free agent with no return?
  4. And finally, how is the team doing this year, and do they have a chance to make some noise or are they mailing it in the rest of the way?

Likewise, the Yankees also face decisions of consequence should they decide to make a push for a free agent to be now or at the trade deadline.

Because unless the Yankees can wrap up a deal beyond this season with a pitcher, they trade for, essentially, all they are getting is a rental for the remainder of this season, with no guarantee they can sign him as a free agent.

All things considered then, are there pitchers on other teams the Yankees can, and even should be interested in pursuing in a trade?

Yankees Trade Prospect Danny Duffy, Age 32

At the moment, Danny Duffy has the best ERA in the American League (0.60). He’s 4-1 with decisions in all of his five starts.

Yankees Trade Target:  Danny Duffy<a rel=
Yankees Trade Target: Danny Duffy

Duffy is in his eleventh major league season, and he has never played for a team other than the Royals.

He’s your classic left-hander at 6’3″, 205 lbs. Until this year, his best season was in 2016, when he went 11-3. Duffy will average eight strikeouts, and three walks per nine innings pitched.

Rarely injured, Duffy averaged between 23-28 starts each year 2014-2019.

Duffy’s salary this year is $15.5 million, and he is in the final season of a five-year deal.

Given that Kansas City is off to a good start and is currently in first place in AL Central with a record of 16-9, the best in the American League, prying Duffy away will not be easy.

But again, these decisions are based on the factors cited above – and you don’t know until you ask.

Yankees Trade Prospect: Dylan Bundy, Age 28

Dylan Bundy was once the talk of baseball when the Baltimore Orioles made him their first pick (4th overall) in the 2011 College Draft out of his high school in Oklahoma.

Yankees Trade Target Dylan Bundy <a rel=
Yankees Trade Target Dylan Bundy

Over six seasons in Baltimore, Bundy never quite blossomed, failing to develop any consistency from start to start.

Of course, some of that was due to the teams the Orioles were fielding behind him from 2016-2019, topped by two consecutive seasons of 100+ losses in Bundy’s final two years in Baltimore.

This year, Bundy is averaging six innings over five starts. He’s 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA, so there’s nothing to write home about there.

Signed by the LA Angels to a one-year deal worth $8.325 million, Bundy again finds himself mired with a team going nowhere. Stuck in a division with the Astros and A’s, if the Angels can climb above the surprising Mariners, they can be judged to have had a good season.

For the Yankees, Dylan Bundy, minus the injuries, can be seen as taking a flyer as they did on Corey Kluber. They know Bundy can pitch in this league, and he is still in the beginnings of what is considered a pitcher’s prime at 28.

The Angels will not trade Bundy to recoup any money – they have plenty of it, so it’ll be up to the Yankees to sweeten the deal with a player or two to their liking.

Yankees Trade Prospect: Jon Gray, Age 29

Jon Gray is in his seventh season with the Colorado Rockies. He’s nine games over .500 (48-39) in his career.

<a rel=Jon Gray 2022 Free Agent
Jon Gray 2022 Free Agent

Durable, Gray has made all six of his scheduled starts in 2021, winning three of five decisions. From 2016-2019 (no one counts 2020), Gray topped 150 or more innings in three of those four seasons, going 10-4 in the other year (2017).

Pitching in Denver is no pitcher’s dream, so his lifetime ERA of 4.52 can be considered normal at Coors Field.

Again, for the Yankees, they are looking at a team going nowhere after dumping their best player, Nolan Arenado, to the Cardinals. Mired in last place with a record of 10-17, and in a division with the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants, the Rockies have nothing to lose in trading Gray.

The Rockies would likely ask for prospects from the Yankees, but not top ones, assuming Gray’s moderate value on the open market next year.

The Yankees will also be looking at paying only a portion of Gray’s modest $6 million salaries this year – depending on what point in the season the trade is consummated.

Yankees Trade Prospect: Masahiro Tanaka Age: 32

Why should you be surprised to see the name Masahiro Tanaka listed here?

Depending on who you believe, Tanaka is pitching in the Japan Pacific League this year for one of two reasons.

<a rel=Masahiro Tanaka In A Strange Uniform 2021
Masahiro Tanaka In A Strange Uniform 2021

The most believable reason is that Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman (inexcusably) did not make the proper overtures to woo one of their own. Tanaka (mindful of his culture) took that as a sign of disrespect from the Yankees.

Or, and this came out only recently, Tanaka noticed how Asians were being treated in America, and fearing for his and his family’s safety, Tanaka fled to Japan.

In any event, Tanaka currently has a 2-1 record with a 2.12 ERA with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, over three starts.

It’s reasonable to assume that Masahiro Tanaka has unfinished business pitching in America’s Major Leagues, particularly with the Yankees with whom he has yet to claim a World Series ring.

Tanaka writes his own script in Japan, where he is a national hero. If he decides to leave Japan, returning to the Yankees, his legion of fans will still be tuned in in the middle of their night to watch his games.

The question is, of course, twofold. Will Brian Cashman do his best version of mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, to recruit Tanaka, and does Tanaka feel comfortable returning to the scenes of the crimes?

The Yankees needed Tanaka then, and they need him now backed up to Gerrit Cole in their rotation.

Why not at least give it a shot?

Footnote: Yankees Win As Kluber Shines

The Yankees climbed back to .500 with a 2-0 win this afternoon over the hapless Detroit Tigers. Corey Kluber hurled eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out ten, and throwing three-fourths of his pitches for strikes (74-103). Kyle Higashioka and Brett Gardner each drove in a run, and Aroldis Chapman finished up with his sixth save in six tries.

Here’s A Follow-Up Story On Kluber’s Game Today

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

I wouldn’t call these pitchers ‘prospects’. These are established pitchers in their late 20’s/early 30’s. They won’t go cheap either.


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Steve Contursi
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Author: stevecontursi

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