The New York Yankees have played better of late, but still face a very realistic possibility of becoming trade deadline sellers this summer. New York has until the end of July to figure out its future in 2016 and currently sits five games below .500 and still in last place in the AL East. There is still a chance guys like CC Sabathia come back and continue a successful season, or Masahiro Tanaka stays ace-like like when he pitched in 2014, but there’s also a chance Luis Severino has a complete sophomore slump and Michael Pineda never finds his full potential. Here is a review of the Yankees’ starting pitching and who should stay and who should go (and when):
Masahiro Tanaka: Stay
Tanaka will officially be the highest paid Yankees’ starter when Sabathia’s contract expires after next season so it could be an easy emotion to want to move his contract as well. But New York would be best served hanging on to a no doubt front of the rotation arm. Tanaka’s elbow issues have yet to result in major surgery, but he has also proven to be fragile early on in his career. The Yankees would very likely get less on the trade market than the impact he can provide in New York already demonstrating he can handle the market and the stadium.
There’s a chance Tanaka opts out in a couple of years, in which case the Yankees shouldn’t fall for a major extension like they did with Alex Rodriguez all those years ago, but if he doesn’t opt out (and right now it seems like that wouldn’t be a great decision), New York is best paying him number two starter money.
Michael Pineda: Trade (this winter)
Pineda is one of the more frustrating arms in the majors. His problem isn’t velocity (he throws in the mid to high 90’s) or even throwing strikes (he waks very few hitters) but seems to be mostly mental. Pineda makes bad pitches in bad counts and throws “bad” strikes, if you will, which is to say, he may not throw outside the zone enough. Though he still has a ton of potential and is only now heading into his prime years, the Yankees would be wise to capitalize on a really bad pitching market this winter and deal the righty.
Pineda should be able to net decent prospects just based on his age and stuff and the fact there are always a few teams who think they can fix a player in their prime who has shown traces of brilliance (and if they’re the Pirates, they probably can). The Yankees are still a couple of years away from being in a strong position to become perennial World Series contenders and Pineda’s contract will be up after 2017 anyway, which means even if he did figure it out, the 6’7″ fire thrower won’t come cheap when New York would be looking for a bargain.
Nathan Eovaldi: Extend
Eovaldi is slightly younger than Pineda but is also a free agent after the 2017 season. It’s highly unlikely they both put it together in the next two seasons and both get extended so realistically, the Yankees would love to roll with one of them long-term and let the other walk and potentially collect prospects or an extra pick. Eovaldi is the one who has shown more promise, putting together a string of 4 ERA baseball in 2015 before an injury ended his season in August and then putting together a string solid starts after a rough first half of April. As he becomes more comfortable with his new splitter, the 26-year-old could reach a new level of success and the Yankees would be wise to extend him if he puts together a solid 2016 campaign before he hits free agency.
Luis Severino: Stay
Severino has struggled to a 7+ ERA after an eye opening 11 start performance in 2015. The 22-year-old recently hit the DL with a strain and may even need some time in the minors to gain some confidence back. Still, Severino is under control well past the time when the Yankees will be ready to compete and fits into the core long-term. Without diminished velocity, it seems like whatever is hurting the young righty can be resolved long-term and Severino and return back on a path towards the front of the rotation he began on last season.
Ivan Nova: Trade
This one is hard to predict so early. If the Yankees are in contention, of course you hold onto the versatile righty. If they aren’t, you should try to trade him as Nova has pitched better this season than last year and could net something at the deadline. Of course, if there is no market for Nova, he will simply walk this winter in free agency anyway. It’s highly unlikely the Yankees make Nova a qualifying offer or extend him as he just has not been consistent enough during his time here.
CC Sabathia: Trade
Sabathia is obviously not part of the future as he is in the twilight of his career. The big lefty was off to a rebirth of sorts, pitching well until he landed on the DL. Sabathia is due to return in the next week and can still show he has something left in the tank. The Yankees will be interested in clearing his payroll for next season in the best shot they have at resetting the luxury tax, so New York may look to mainly shed his contract to a team like the Angels. It’s unlikely Sabathia is going anywhere, but if New York has the chance to trade him before his contract expires at the end of 2017, it would be wise to do so.