By all appearances, the rotation looked like a strength entering the season but the team will almost certainly be in the market for a starter. David Phelps and Vidal Nuno can patch the rotation for now and Alfredo Aceves may eventually be able to add depth to the bullpen. The Yankees are going to need at least a mid-rotation arm to make a postseason run.
1. Justin Masterson’s value to the Cleveland Indians may be waning after he lost some velocity on his fastball this off-season. He’s also set to become a free agent at the end of 2014. The Yankees may not have a top-end prospect worth trading for Masterson, but the Indians could be tempted to sell low if they’re out of contention by early summer. The two sides are reportedly far apart on extension talks and a trade would make sense to get value before risking losing him to free agency.
2. Yovani Gallardo has been sensational in six starts this season and his age (28) also allows the Milwaukee Brewers to ask for a high return on the pitcher. Gallardo was on the block before the season, but the Brewers are a surprise success story early this season. The Brewers could also fall out of contention by mid-season and look to get something back for Gallardo before he becomes a free agent.
3. Mark Buehrle seems to always be on the Yankees’ radar and the Blue Jays could readily be sellers in 2014 as the odd men out in the AL East. Buehrle has a 2.16 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, making him more than a serviceable mid-rotation arm. Buehrle’s true value is in his reliability, as he’s pitched at least 30 games ever year since 2001.
4. Colby Lewis would be available immediately if Derek Holland and Matt Harrison can return from injury in 2014 and pitch effectively. Lewis’ availability might also hinge on the success of the Texas Rangers’ young rotation. After the departures of Craig Gentry and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers would likely be looking for outfield depth in exchange for Lewis.
5. Paul Maholm is under a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Josh Beckett’s injury situation may make the lefty necessary to keep around. If he was to become available, the Dodgers could sell low for simply not having a place on the pitching staff for him.
The Yankees lone top-end prospect, catcher Gary Sanchez, is likely the only farm hand Brian Cashman sees as untouchable. Masterson and Gallardo are among the more costly options, as are Cliff Lee and Jeff Samardzija. With multi-year commitments to Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, minor league prospects Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott could be available should they stay healthy.
Buehrle, Lewis and Maholm would be cheaper options and may not require the Yankees to give up a lesser prospect package. As the team’s fourth outfielder, Ichiro Suzuki would also likely be available for trade.