Following injuries to Luis Severino and James Paxton, the Yankees have reached out to the Mets to inquire on the availability of left-hander Steven Matz, per Ken Davidoff and Mike Puma of the New York Post. SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that while there’s been contact between the two teams, however, a deal is quite unlikely.
The 28-year-old Matz has started 30 games in each of the past two seasons, pitching to a combined 4.09 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.49 HR/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 314 1/3 frames. The Mets control him through the 2021 season as an arbitration-eligible player.
A deal between the two sides coming together would indeed face numerous obstacles. The Yankees and Mets generally don’t trade with one another, and the Mets themselves have some question marks among their starting staff. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello are locks at this point, and there’s been talk of taking a less-conventional approach to the fifth spot, using both Matz and Michael Wacha in nontraditional capacities. After that, the 40-man roster contains Stephen Gonsalves, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt and Franklyn Kilome, while veteran righty Erasmo Ramirez is in camp on a non-roster deal. Wacha and Porcello are already in need of their own rebounds, and a trade of Matz followed by an injury elsewhere on the starting staff would leave the Mets with a good bit of uncertainty.
From a financial vantage point, Matz’s $5MM salary for the 2020 season would cost the Yankees more than it appears at first glance. After adding Gerrit Cole to the mix and giving out arbitration raises to the likes of Paxton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Tommy Kahnle and others, the Yankees find themselves more than $50MM north of the luxury barrier. Because they’re more than $40MM above that $208MM line and would be in luxury-tax territory for a second straight season, the Yankees would owe a 75 percent tax on any additional dollars added to the payroll. In effect, Matz would cost them $8.75MM. It’s not a backbreaking difference, but it’d certainly impact the manner in which the club determines Matz’s value and what he should cost in a theoretical trade.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock, though, is the simple fact that the Mets would covet MLB talent in return for Matz, according to the Post’s reporting. Puma and Davidoff suggest that Miguel Andujar would “likely” intrigue the Mets but that the Yankees wouldn’t be keen on such a swap.
Not long after Severino’s injury was announced, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman downplayed the possibility of making a move. “The winter marketplace this time of year, it doesn’t exist,” he said when asked about the possibility of going outside the organization for help. That’s not a declaration that he wouldn’t make any type of effort, but as the previously laid-out obstacles illustrate, making a deal this time of year (particularly in the case of these two teams) can be problematic.
The Yankees have surely asked about other starters — they’ve also scouted free agent Henderson Alvarez — but inquiring and acquiring are two very different things. There’s still a bit more than three weeks to try to pull something together before Opening Day, but it’s difficult to envision a Matz swap coming to fruition.