With baseball’s best record going into the All-Star break, the Yankees might feel comfortable, but they shouldn’t. Despite the AL East being as competitive as ever this season, many of the Yankees’ rivals are poised for a big second half.
The Baltimore Orioles finally look like a major league team and could add pitching at the trade deadline to improve their chances of taking the division.
The Toronto Blue Jays still have the bats of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and with some pitching, they could also be contenders.
New York may hold a seven-game lead in the division over Baltimore, but that doesn’t mean that they’re a lock to win the division. Plenty has gone wrong for the Yankees this season and there is the possibility of things getting worse.
The most apparent issue is New York’s starting rotation. They currently only have four legitimate starters since C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte caught the injury bug. Sabathia should be back relatively soon, but Pettitte is going to need some time to heal from a fractured ankle. With those two lefties out, there’s a big void in the Yankees rotation.
The Yankees can fill that void and secure themselves the AL East title by adding a starting pitcher such as Matt Garza. Garza to the Yankees could be a possibility, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Garza would appear the most realistic possibility—sources say the Yankees like him, he has a history of success in the AL East and he is under club control through 2013. But the Cubs only will trade Garza if they get the desired return—and their asking price is said to be steep.
Rosenthal also writes that Freddy Garcia and David Phelps are two of the current starters, but it doesn’t mean that New York will part with either. Bleacher Report’s Ely Sussman thinks that the Yankees have to deal Garcia. If they did, they’d really need to add another starting pitcher because what they have now won’t cut it late in the season or in the postseason.
Garza hasn’t been as good this season compared to year’s past, but he still is a valuable pitcher that would really help the Yankees.
Even if the asking price is steep, the Yankees have several prospects that could be used for trade bait. As B/R’s Doug Mead writes, Dellin Betances is New York’s best trade asset since he hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the Yankees. He also mentions that Manny Banuelos could be up for grabs as well.
If general manager Brian Cashman packaged Betances, Banuelos and maybe a hitting prospect or two, that could intrigue Cubs GM Jed Hoyer enough to part with Garza. The Cubs are trying to acquire as many prospects as possible to rebuild for the future, and Betances and Banuelos still have plenty of time to figure things out.
The addition of Garza would be huge for the Yankees. Not only would they be able to throw him onto the mound every five days, they’d also be keeping the other AL East teams from acquiring him. The Blue Jays have suffered several long-term injuries to their starting rotation and the Red Sox could also be interested in him.
With a starting rotation of Sabathia, Garza, Nova, Kuroda and Hughes down the stretch, there would be no stopping the New York Yankees. The Yankees offense is already as good as it gets and by adding an arm like Garza, they’d be absolute locks for the AL East title and possibly the AL pennant.