With James Paxton out of action until June, the Yankees should consider trading for a swingman like Ross Stripling.
Losing James Paxton for the first quarter of the 2020 season stings, but better it happened now so that he and the Yankees can be at full strength come the dog days of summer.
For the time being, it appears the Yanks will plug J.A. Happ into the No. 4 slot, with a Spring Training battle to determine who will earn the final rotation spot.
While many expect Jordan Montgomery to prevail the victor, the Bombers have several prospects that will get a chance to prove they are big-league ready (Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, and Michael King).
Even Luis Cessa has been mentioned in the “open competition,” according to GM Brian Cashman. However, moving Cessa from the bullpen would leave the Yankees without a regular swingman, at least until Domingo German’s suspension ends. Chad Green has already expressed his desire to return to more of a traditional relief role.
And while Montgomery could very well be the answer at the backend of the rotation, he’s thrown exactly four innings since returning from Tommy John surgery late last season. Therefore, it could very well take Monty some time to knock the rust off.
Naturally, a club often grooms its best prospects for moments like this — when a starter unexpectedly goes down. But this is the Yankees — a team many expect to compete, if not win a World Series this season.
As it is, Happ was on the trade block earlier this winter, so how much faith does the club genuinely have in the 37-year-old left-hander?
Therefore, the Yankees would be wise to at least check in on Dodgers righty Ross Stripling.
Following the initial failed Mookie Betts trade, which included Stripling and outfielder Joc Pederson being shipped to the Angels for three minor leaguers, Stripling is still in Dodger blue.
Now excess to Los Angeles’ plans, the Yankees could certainly use a proven major league arm that can fill in until Paxton’s return, and then move to the bullpen to resume his regular swingman role.
In 2019, Stripling went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 3.47 FIP, and 9.2 K/9 across 90.2 innings (15 starts). An All-Star in 2018, Stripling produced a 50.2 groundball rate, and 72.9 left on-base percentage last season.
At 30, Stripling is set to make $2.1 million this season, and if the non-trade to the Angels is any indication, the Yankees should be able to acquire the right-hander for one or two lower-level minor leaguers.