Yankees Stretch Targets

Ace Acquisitions
Hello once more Yankees fans. Today I will be highlighting two of four impact pitchers that are ‘available’ in the major leagues at the present moment and what exactly it would take to acquire each one. Articles like these are fun to read and fun write, but let me caution you: I view none of these guys as a likely move despite the fact I feel the Yankees need to make one.
I have been quite open about how poor the rotation looks and let’s face it – this roster isn’t going to seriously contend especially as a quite a few teams completely revamped and improved their teams. Resigning Chase Headley was a step in the right direction, but acquisitions such as Chris Capuano, Did Gregorius, and Nathan Eovaldi aren’t going to help in 2015. Sure, the latter two are younger, but the bottom line is none of those guys are hardly even average let alone above it. Today I will discuss two of the four impact pitchers I propose the Yankees look into.

James Shields
We all know “Big Game” James fairly well. He spent quite a bit of time with division opponent Tampa Bay and was a pretty solid two-ish starter, never quite reaching the potential of ace status. The Rays traded him to Kansas City a few years ago and his performance didn’t suffer. In 2013 he threw 228.2 IP with a 131 ERA + then followed it up this past season with 227.0 IP and a 124 ERA+. Additionally he posted a 4.1 and 4.3 WAR those years. Thus, we realize James Shields is a workhorse and a pretty dang good one at that.

We all know this postseason he wasn’t exactly lights out though. In fact he was the opposite. However, this shouldn’t diminish a guy who can pitch massive amounts of inning and limit runs while doing so. In fact, with all the injury and talent questions surrounding the Yankees rotation that’s exactly what they need. Heck, the guy threw a whopping 249.1 IP in 2011 while posting a 2.82 ERA. He’s an innings eater and a stellar one at that.

The tricky part about big game James is he is A. 33 years old and B. doesn’t exactly show up to big games as evidenced by his 5.46 ERA in 11 postseason starts. The age part is the more bothersome. I think the postseason issue can be chalked up to throwing so many innings a season – you eventually just run out of gas in the tank. However, I’m afraid all those innings will eventually catch up as James ages and succumb to the CC Sabathia effect (massive workloads destroying physical ability).

What would it take?
If he came at the right price, I would take a gamble on Shields despite said concerns. He hasn’t really shown signs of slowing down or injury as mentioned concern for injury is purely my speculation (Sabathia has me concerned over every aging innings eater). After all, Shields has made at least 31 starts each year since 2007, so he’s a guy worth the risk. I wouldn’t give him a massive contract however. I would draw the line at three, maybe four years. I would certainly go no higher than $20mil/year, so it would have to fit into those parameters. The fact that he’s still out there might hint that a reduced contract like this may be possible.

Cole Hamels
Ah, Cole Hamels. It seems like each year trade rumors fly surrounding Philly’s ace. However, almost always we find out that nobody is willing to meet Ruben Amaro’s astronomical asking price for the lefty ace. Let’s take a look at Hamels.

Cole has been a lights out lefty his entire career as shown by a 3.27 ERA and 125 ERA+ since he came into the league. Last year alone he sported a 2.46 ERA and an amazing 151 ERA+ and 6.1 WAR. That’s straight filth right there.

So we all know Hamels is a great pitcher. Another bonus? His contract actually kind of seems like a bargain at this point. He’s signed through 2018 for a modest $96 million which averages out to a modest $24 million a year. Considering what Max Scherzer just got and how Hamels is on his level in terms of performance, that’s not bad at all and we all know the Yankees could financially handle the acquisition.

What would it take?
Obviously Hamels would make a great addition for the club. The team lacks a defined, healthy ace and Hamels would anchor it effectively without costing an arm and a leg in terms of money. The real question here is what is Hamels actually worth versus what the Phillies want for him?

It’s no secret the Phillies seem to be out of their mind in what they want for their players. For this very reason I have a very hard time seeing a deal happening. However, if the Phillies came back to the realm of reality perhaps something could get done.

Before I begin discussion here, I will note there are two Yankee prospects I really deem ‘untouchable.’ Those guys are Aaron Judge and Greg Bird. Those guys have real potential and by the time they’re ready for the big leagues there will be holes waiting at the positions they play that they can fill.

For starters, rumor has it that the Phillies really like Didi Gregorius (I really have no clue why they would), but nonetheless he would certainly be expendable in a deal now that Stephen Drew has been re-signed and could play shortstop. The Phillies did trade shortstop Jimmy Rollins the offseason thus that is a real hole they need to fill. Additionally, to the delight of many, a trade of Gregorius would make room for Rob Refsnyder to come up and try second base while Stephen Drew slides to shortstop.

Obviously it’s going to take more than Gregorius. The next piece I would include is catching prospect Gary Sanchez. Carlos Ruiz is on the decline and Philly could use a young and upcoming catcher to fill his spot. That’s where Sanchez comes in. This year he rubbed a lot of people in the organization the wrong way and to me he has Jesus Montero (bust) written all over him. Despite this many baseball people seem to think he has real upside and that would be great in selling him to the Phillies.

So with two biggish name prospects so far, it would still likely take more to get Hamels. The Yankees would probably need two more stocking stuffer prospects to go with it all. The Yankees acquired Chasen Shreve in a deal with the Atlanta Braves earlier this season. However the Yankees already have lefty relievers Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson slated for the big league club as well as Jacob Lindren ready to make the jump to the big leagues. With this depth I would be fine with flipping Shreve (who was pretty impressive in 2014) in trade for Hamels.

Lastly, I would throw in outfielder Tyler Austin. Austin had a solid year in AA Trenton this year and hit .275 and clubbed nine homers in 105 games. Clearly Austin has quite a bit of upside as evidenced by previously high prospect rankings and he appears to be on his way to return to that form. For this reason, I think he has value and would be a fair throw in for Hamels.

So the trade plays out like this: Gregorius, Sanchez, Shreve, and Austin for Hamels. Additionally the Yankees would take on the entirety of the contract of Hamels. That’s two big name guys in Gregorius and Sanchez, a solid reliever in Shreve, and a potential steal in Austin for Hamels and much needed salary relief. To me, this is perfect value and more than fair for both sides.

The reality of the matter is quite different, however. I have an extremely difficult time seeing the Phillies giving up Hamels for this as they have stated they want 3-4 big name prospects for the lefty. Hamels is good, but to me it’s not worth throwing Judge or Bird in for him and I would be hesitant to dangle Severino unless that meant not having to give up other big names. To be quite honest, this will probably never happen, but boy, in reality this is a great deal for both sides.

Stay tuned as later in the week I will cover the other two pitchers I think the Yankees should get involved in as they try and rebuild and move towards ring number 28!

Article by: Nick Scott
Follow me @RealYanksFans for more Yankees news, opinion, and discussion.
Statistics and info provided via Baseball-Reference and Bleacher Report.
Photos via http://www.sportsworldreport.com and 

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