The New York Yankees still have a little under a month to decide if they'll be buyers at the July 31st trade deadline, but in the meantime, it appears as though the Bombers are dangling maligned reliever Joba Chamberlain. According to George A. King III and Dan Martin of the New York Post, both the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants are particularly interested in the former top prospect's services.
Chamberlain's role with the Yankees has often been a contentious one—even dating back to his earlier years with the team. The right-hander debuted as a reliever in 2007 and was famously assigned "Joba Rules" to limit his workload. But the following season, the organization slowly transitioned him into a starter, where he enjoyed some encouraging success (2.76 ERA versus park-adjusted 3.38 xFIP).
However, in 2009, Chamberlain struggled mightily in his new, full time starting role. Perhaps due to lingering rotator cuff tendinitis from the season prior, Joba posted a mere 4.75 ERA (versus 4.51 xFIP), 1.55 WHIP and 1.74 K/BB. The Yankees decided to place Chamberlain back in the bullpen in 2010, but he was never quite the same pitcher.
One Tommy John surgery (and a plethora of other injuries) later, Chamberlain is now a forgotten member in the bottom of the Yankees' bullpen depth. So far in 2013, the Nebraska native has pitched to the tune of a 5.75 ERA (versus 3.97 xFIP) and 2.20 K/BB.
Chamberlain, whose fastball once averaged 97.0 mph, has witnessed it fall 2.1 mph over the past six seasons. Perhaps suitors are encouraged that the 27-year-old has seen a boost of 1.53 mph since returning off the disabled list on May 30—but Joba has actually been more hittable during that span.
Despite the declination in stature, both the Braves and Giants are still interested in the reliever. Yankees' fans will have to curb expectations for a potential return as Chamberlain is no longer the "can't miss" pitching prospect he was tabbed as in the earlier part of his career.
As an impending free agent and with mere reclamation appeal, the Yankees would be lucky to acquire a B- or C+ prospect in return.
From the San Francisco Giants, the Yanks could covet right-handed starter Martin Agosta, who was ranked as the 8th best prospect in the Giants organization by John Sickels pre-2013. The 22-year-old was picked in the second round of the 2012 draft and has hurled a 2.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 3.07 K/BB in Single-A. Another potential target could be Edwin Escobar, who has pitched a 3.19 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 5.73 K/BB at Advanced-A. The southpaw is 21 years old.
The Braves might be a slightly better trade partner, as their farm system is bursting with more mid-rotation starters than the Giants'. For instance, right-handed Aaron Northcraft is a 23-year-old ground ball pitcher (55.3 percent at Double-A this season), who has posted a solid 4.30 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 2.31 K/BB. Cody Martin is perhaps a more refined option, as he's already advanced to Triple-A this season. The 23-year-old has posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 2.97 K/BB between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Without any team-control or much 2013 success, the Yankees simply will not be able to market Joba Chamberlain as anything more than a middle reliever rental. While a change of scenery will likely help the smothered, injury-prone pitcher, the trade leverage is on the side of interested parties—not the Yankees.