The Yankees would consider swapping Joba Chamberlain, but "probably only" as part of a larger package for a "viable starter," tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Chamberlain's name was connected to trade rumors last summer, as teams like the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays were trying to "buy low" on Chamberlain, but there was never an indication that the Yankees were seriously considering moving the right-hander.
Chamberlain, 25, was rated as the third-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America before the 2008 season. His star dimmed a bit after a shaky 2009 season in the New York rotation (4.75 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 rate, a league-leading 12 hit batters), but he pitched better out of the bullpen last season, posting a 4.40 ERA, a 2.8 BB/9 rate, and a 3.5 K/BB ratio. Chamberlain is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and is under team control through the 2013 season.
Heyman says Chamberlain will remain a reliever for the Yankees "for now." We heard last month that the club wasn't thinking of moving Chamberlain back to the rotation, but even if Chamberlain's role changed, there's no guarantee he would bring needed stability to the back end of the Bronx Bombers' rotation. Moving Chamberlain would be a win-now move on New York's part, but given the team's fruitless pursuit of Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte's lean towards retirement, the Yankees may be so uncomfortable with their starting pitching that they feel dealing an asset like Chamberlain is necessary.