7:10am: Talks between the Twins and Yankees are “at the 1-yard line,” tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Yankees will continue to talk to the A’s about acquiring Gray as well even after the Garcia trade is finalized.
12:53am: Yankees Double-A pitching prospect Zack Littell is part of the talks, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The Yankees scratched the righty from his start Saturday. MLB.com ranks Littell as New York’s 22nd-best prospect.
12:39am: The Yankees and Twins are “deep into discussions” on a trade that would send left-hander Jaime Garcia to New York, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Acquiring Garcia would not take the Yankees out of the running for Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray, according to Passan. Reports on Saturday tabbed the Yankees as the favorites to land Gray.
As is the case with Gray, the Yankees have come up in Garcia rumors throughout July. Garcia has already changed teams once this month, having gone from the Braves to the Twins this past Monday in a deal that netted Atlanta unheralded pitching prospect Huascar Ynoa. While the upstart Twins were buyers at the outset of the week, they’ve done a 180 thanks to a 1-5 skid since Monday that has dropped them to 50-52 – seven games out in an American League Central division they once led and four back in the wild-card race.
The 31-year-old Garcia has made just one start with the Twins, a 6 2/3-inning, three-earned run effort in which he struck out seven and walked three in a win over the A’s on Friday. Garcia, an impending free agent who’s owed around $4.5MM through year’s end, has been effective all season, having logged a 4.29 ERA (4.04 FIP), 6.29 K/9, 3.31 BB/9 and a 55 percent ground-ball rate over 119 2/3 innings. He’d upgrade the back end of a Yankees rotation that has most recently relied on Caleb Smith, who has combined to throw seven subpar frames in two starts dating back to last Sunday, and join Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery to comprise their starting staff.
Acquiring Gray on top of Garcia would create an extremely interesting conundrum for the Yankees, as it would give the team six capable starters and more than make up for the loss of Michael Pineda to Tommy John surgery. The least proven member of the group would be Montgomery, though the rookie has pitched at least as well as Garcia this year. It’s worth noting, however, that Montgomery has never thrown more than 139 1/3 innings in a season and has already amassed 108 this year. In an effort to tamp down his workload, then, perhaps he’d be a candidate to shift to a relief role. Jon Heyman of FanRag noted Saturday (on Twitter) that the Yankees “wouldn’t mind” picking up another southpaw for their bullpen, and the lefty Montgomery has limited same-sided hitters to a horrid .177/.236/.392 line this season.
Regardless of how the Yankees’ rotation aligns going forward, it’s apparent that general manager Brian Cashman believes the club is a legitimate World Series contender. Cashman made a bold strike earlier this month in picking up two standout relievers – Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson – as well as third baseman Todd Frazier in a trade with the White Sox, and New York has awoken from an early summer slumber since then to regain first place in the American League East. Winners of six straight, the Yankees own a 56-46 record and a half-game advantage over the Red Sox in the division. The Yankees also boast the AL’s second-best run differential (plus-117), which suggests their record should be even better than it is.