Considering the bevy of rumors linking Marcus Stroman to the Yankees before July’s trade deadline, it wasn’t a surprise rebuilding Toronto sent the right-hander to New York during the summer. It was, however, unexpected that Stroman ended up with the Mets instead of the Yankees. It turns out the Yankees’ interest in Stroman – although real – wasn’t especially high, general manager Brian Cashman reveals to Yahoo Sports’ Wallace Matthews in a quality piece profiling the longtime executive.
“We were interested in Stroman but we didn’t think he would be a difference-maker,” Cashman said. “We felt he would be in our bullpen in the postseason.”
That’s an eyebrow-raising quote in regards to Stroman, who was plenty effective in the Yankees’ division – the American League East – from 2014-18. Despite Stroman’s successful track record, his remaining year and a half of affordable team control and the Yankees’ apparent need for starters, they held firm when the Jays “were demanding” outfielder Clint Frazier in a package for the hurler, Matthews reports. Frazier drew plenty of rumored interest from around the league before the deadline, at which point he was languishing in the minors, but he stayed put. While Frazier’s latest recall didn’t come until rosters expanded at the beginning of this month, he has picked up some starts of late as the Yankees’ outfield deals with injuries to Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman.
Whether the Yankees were right to seemingly prioritize Frazier over Stroman is up for debate. No matter which side you’re on there, it’s hard to have complete confidence in the AL East winners’ rotation – something they didn’t address at the deadline – as the playoffs approach. The Yankees just lost Domingo German for the season because of a domestic violence investigation (though Cashman obviously couldn’t have foreseen that), and CC Sabathia will end his illustrious career in the bullpen after a rough, injury-plagued regular season as a starter. Sabathia’s fellow aged lefty, J.A. Happ, has joined him in struggling for most of this year, but Happ has rounded back to form lately. Even better than Happ’s recent success? Ace Luis Severino just debuted last week after a season-long battle with injuries, and James Paxton has been on a roll since mid-August.
In the event the Yankees need four starters in a postseason series, Severino, Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka (who hasn’t been great in 2019) and Happ will present their four best traditional options. While there’s a strong case that Stroman’s preferable to at least one member of that quartet, the Yankees didn’t regard him as enough of an upgrade to surrender significant young talent for him over the summer.