It is starting to sound like a broken record but the fact still stands. The Yankees are making starting pitching a priority this offseason. They have already upgraded the rotation by trading for former Mariners starter James Paxton. The Yankees had to give up their top prospect in Justus Sheffield but the Yankees are in a win now mode and Sheffield was not going to help them win a title next year. Paxton when healthy has ace potential. The advanced metrics favor him greatly and he reached a career high in innings pitched last season. It was a risky move but one that had to be done. The Yankees still need a top of the rotation arm if they are going to have a shot at the title in 2019. There a decent amount of options on both the trade and free agent market.
Corey Kluber, Indians
Kluber has been linked to the Yankees for the past several weeks. The Indians have a lot of pitching depth which is why they have made Kluber and Carlos Carrasco available. This doesn’t mean they are actively trying to trade them but they will listen to proposals. The Indians desperately need outfielders who are big league ready so they likely won’t make a deal for strictly prospects. Perhaps a deal headed by OF Clint Frazier and RHP Albert Abreu would get a deal done but even that may still not be enough. In order to obtain Kluber, the Yankees would probably have to give up the runner up Rookie of the Year Miguel Andújar.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants
The Giants have hired a new GM Farhan Zaidi and they are likely to begin a rebuild. Their roster is on the older side and their farm system is barren. They need to unload some of their veterans while they still have some value left. The Giants may want to hold onto him until the all-star break in hopes that he has a great first half in order to drive up his value since he has not pitched up to his standards the past two seasons. However, Bumgarner is recognized most for his postseason heroics and the only Yankees starter that pitched well in the post-season is Masahiro Tanaka. Bumgarner will be a free agent next offseason so the Yankees may not want to part with top prospects for someone that could be a one year rental.
Patrick Corbin, Free Agent
Corbin is the top free agent starter on the free agent market. He had a career year in 2018 where he posted a 11-7 record, 3.15 ERA, 200 IP, 1.050 WHIP, and 11.1 K/9. He is in the prime of his career at 29 and he is reportedly looking for a 6-year deal. Corbin has expressed his interest in playing for the Yankees because he is from upstate New York and grew up a Yankee fan. The Phillies are also interested in Corbin and they have a lot of money to throw around. So would the Yankees be willing to outbid the Phillies for the potential ace?
Dallas Keuchel, Free Agent
A few years ago Keuchel was projected to be the top arm on the market this offseason. The former Cy Young winner isn’t what once was but he still a quality arm when healthy. He is a roundball pitcher which helps in Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right field. He would more of a number 3 or 4 starter at this point in his career so he might not move the needle enough to put the Yankees over the top. He would be a solid fallback option if the Yankees can’t sign Corbin or another top of the rotation arm.
J.A. Happ, Free Agent
Happ was acquired by the Yankees at the deadline in 2018 and pitched very well for them down the stretch. However, he was roughed up in his one playoff outing against the Red Sox. Happ is 36 and reportedly looking for a multi-year deal which the Yankees would be reluctant to dish out. There are multiple teams interested in Happ’s services so it may be wise for the Yankees to let the other teams compete for him.
Yusei Kikuchi, Free Agent
Kikuchi is projected to be posted by his Japanese team this Winter. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has stated they have done their due diligence on Kikuchi as they do for many players in that section of the world. Kikuchi has good numbers in the Japanese league but the question is if it will translate to the MLB. He has a 2.81 career ERA with 925 strikeouts and he is still relatively young at 27 years old.