7:56pm: “The Yankees might not be enamored enough with Bumgarner to pay the necessary price,” MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand writes. The potential return of Severino could also impact the Yankees’ deadline plans, though as one executive points out, it wouldn’t be surprising if Severino has some rust after his long layoff, so the Yankees might not have enough time before the deadline to evaluate if they can rely on him to be the rotation help they need.
11:28am: The Yankees are known to be looking into starting pitching options, and their explorations have included two of the arms most likely to be moved before the July 31st trade deadline. According to the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have been in touch with the Blue Jays about right-hander Marcus Stroman, and have also had scouts watching Madison Bumgarner’s outings for the Giants.
Virtually every aspect of the Yankees’ roster has been hit hard with injuries this season, with the rotation being no exception. Luis Severino has yet to pitch this season and won’t be back until after the All-Star break, while James Paxton, C.C. Sabathia, and (just today) Domingo German have all spent time on the injured list. Between these issues and some struggles at the back of their bullpen, Davidoff figures that the Yankees will prioritize pitching upgrades as the deadline approaches.
To this end, New York has undoubtedly done some preliminary evaluation (whether it’s scouting or direct conversations with rival front offices) about many pitchers beyond just Stroman and Bumgarner. It remains to be seen if the Yankees’ inquiries represent due diligence or a genuinely strong interest, though these two pitchers naturally stand out due to their high-profile nature, and each would come with some interesting factors to consider before any deal is completed.
Stroman has bounced back nicely this season following an injury-plagued down year in 2018, and isn’t a rental piece, as he is under team control through the 2020 season. While he’ll be in line for an arbitration raise on his $7.4MM salary for this season, Stroman will still bring a ton of value to any rotation if he keeps pitching at his current level. If Stroman did end up in the pinstripes, this extra year of control would make him a natural candidate to replace the retiring Sabathia in next season’s rotation, and thus the Yankees would have one less item to address on their offseason to-do list.
That said, Toronto will demand a big return for Stroman’s services. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently explored the Stroman trade market, with the Yankees cited as one of a whopping 22 teams who could be plausible fits for the right-hander — Stroman’s extra year of control makes him a target even for clubs like the White Sox, Diamondbacks, or Reds, who might not be contenders this season but are looking ahead to 2020.
Though the Blue Jays and Yankees are division rivals, the two teams combined for a high-profile pitching swap last summer when J.A. Happ was dealt to New York for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney. Since Happ was a pending free agent at the time of that trade, and is over eight and a half years older than Stroman, the Jays figure to ask for quite a bit more from the Yankees in trade talks this summer.
Bumgarner’s situation is quite a bit different, as the former World Series MVP is a pure rental, headed to free agency after the season. Many of the same teams looking to acquire Stroman will also be in the hunt for Bumgarner (as Connor outlined in another post), though even with only two-plus months and potential postseason innings on offer, the Giants are likely to aim high in their trade demands. With so many of their other high-priced veterans struggling, battling injuries, or limited by full or partial no-trade clauses, Bumgarner represents San Francisco’s best chance of adding some solid prospects as the team looks to get younger.
Bumgarner himself has some no-trade protection, with the ability to block trades to eight teams. The Yankees are one of the teams on that list, though this doesn’t mean that the southpaw would necessarily reject a potential trade to the Bronx, but rather that Bumgarner was simply giving himself some extra leverage (perhaps in the form of a cash bonus to waive his clause) in the event that a trade offer emerged from one of those eight clubs.