Entering play Monday, the Bronx Bombers were four games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East and battling with the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals for wild-card positioning.
Perhaps a significant move or two at the July 31 trade deadline could push the Yankees over the top?
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest rumors coming out of New York.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com filled fans in on the latest regarding New York’s potential pursuit of John Danks: "The White Sox had scouts watching the Yankees' system, particularly the minor league catching surplus, in the past few days. It is yet one more indication the Yankees are focused on John Danks in their search for another starting pitcher."
It is certainly interesting that the Yankees are connected with Danks because many teams would take umbrage with his $14.25 million salary the next two years, but probably not New York. Danks may have a 9-6 record, but his 4.40 ERA is certainly far from elite, as are the 17 home runs he has allowed.
Still, the Yankees pitching staff has taken some lumps in the injury department with CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. Adding Danks would provide some depth and another solid arm to a rotation that ranks 17th in the league in ERA.
He may not be a game-changer, but Danks would certainly give the Yankees a more formidable pitching group heading into the stretch run.
Despite the pitching staff concerns, there are still some other needs. Stark had another update:
While the Yankees have looked into names like Josh Willingham, other clubs say they appear most focused this week on finding a right-handed hitting platoon partner in right field for Ichiro Suzuki, and one with no long-term salary commitments. So names like Chris Denorfia (Padres) and Justin Ruggiano (Cubs) are more likely than, say, Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios.
Who wins the AL East?
Ichiro hasn’t exactly dominated in New York, but he is batting .270 and is still a solid glove in the outfield. If he could platoon with someone consistently at age 40, his production would probably see an uptick.
None of the names on that list Stark provided is going to single-handedly win the Yankees an American League pennant, but more depth is critical as the wear and tear of the season takes its toll in September. Keeping fresh legs in the outfield, especially one that features older veterans like Ichiro, could be the difference in a future game or two.
Looking for Pitching
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports filled fans in on the Yankees’ search for some other more notable names:
While Cliff Lee could become an option later if he pitches some better games in his return after a two-month absence with an elbow issue, the Yankees aren't focused on him now since he's all but sure to clear waivers in August and remain a trade candidate.
Lee's teammate Cole Hamels seems barely available, and even if he is, the Yankees probably don't have the upper-level prospects to do such a deal.
That doesn’t exactly seem promising from New York’s perspective, but one American League scout had a more positive take, via Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe: "They have more in their farm system than people think. They have some arms, they have the Aaron Judge kid, [Luis] Severino, [Gary] Sanchez, [Peter] O’Brien, [Eric] Jagielo. If they wanted to make a deal, they have enough to give up."
The name that really jumps out from that list of pitchers is Jon Lester. If the Yankees do pursue him in the offseason, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch seeing them throw big-time money his way. In fact, New York tossing dollars at the best arm on the market is almost a rite of passage for any offseason.
It’s hard to see Boston trading a pitcher the caliber of Lester, who just so happens to be among the best lefties in all of baseball, to its chief rival. That being said, stranger things have happened at the MLB trade deadline.
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