Starting pitching is the biggest weakness for the New York Yankees, but they still have time to add an ace at the trade deadline.
In a season dominated by a long list of injuries, the New York Yankees got another fresh bit of bad news last week. The team’s ace Luis Severino was supposed to finally begin a throwing program, but has lingering soreness in his shoulder. He has not pitched yet this year, and now may not pitch until the middle of August.
The Yankees believe Severino will pitch at some point this year, but the front office still has to address the team’s only glaring weakness — the rotation. Aside from CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees have not gotten any consistent performances from their starters. Sabathia, Tanaka and James Paxton also come with considerably long injury histories. Losing any of the members of that trio for an extended period of time would be a huge blow to the Yankees.
Despite their rotation’s struggles, the Yankees are in the process of running away with the AL East. That’s still no reason to stand pat, especially when they have not won the World Series since 2009. They can afford to allow Severino’s recovery to take as long as it needs to take, but still have to get involved in the trade market again. As the trade deadline draws closer, these are the five options that stand out as the most realistic targets.
5. Corey Kluber
The Cleveland Indians looked set to hit the trade deadline as firm sellers, but a strong month of June has them right back in the thick of things as they chase a Wild Card. With the American League effectively divided straight down the middle between contenders and teams trying to lose 100 games in the name of “rebuilding,” coming out on top with a playoff spot is going to come down to health and a little bit of luck. The Indians do have an incredibly weak AL Central schedule working in their favor, but they have not looked the part of a serious playoff contender this season.
Injuries have played a big part in keeping the Indians from running away with the division title for the fourth year in a row. The biggest injury the Tribe suffered was the loss of ace and Cy Young Corey Kluber in May to a freak broken forearm suffered on a comebacker. The 33-year-old is in the final guaranteed year of his deal, and the Indians considered shopping him during the offseason.
Prior to his injury, Kluber had an uncharacteristic 5.80 ERA in seven starts, but had a somewhat respectable FIP of 4.02. He has historically been a slower starter in the month of April, and few pitchers in baseball have his second-half track record. Kluber is expected back from his injury in August, so any teams targeting him will have to bet on his recovery coming together quickly for the stretch run. Cleveland may still be in the hunt for a Wild Card come the trade deadline, but dealing away Kluber makes more sense now than trying to chase a spot in a one-game playoff.