4 buy-low trade candidates Yankees should target for rotation

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Yusei Kikuchi #18 of the Seattle Mariners (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

2. Yusei Kikuchi

You legally can’t do a Yankees trade list without including a Mariner.

Just about two years after the Yankees’ decision to import James Paxton from the Mariners for Justus Sheffield and a few ancillary pieces, it could be time to head back to that well to pick up another highlight name from a team that’s eternally rebuilding.

After two years (OK, 1.4 years), 29-year-old Yusei Kikuchi hasn’t hit his stride yet in MLB — but the surface numbers might be lying a bit about his 2020 impact. Entering the “final year” of his three-year deal, Kikuchi has several team options to mess with, all the way through 2025. The Mariners likely thought they’d be doing themselves a great service by embedding these, but then again…they are the Mariners. They love to deal.

And a team like the Yankees could be wooed by Kikuchi’s peripherals. Is a 5.17 ERA valuable from a volatile lefty? No. But what about a remarkable 3.30 FIP? Something tells us that, in a longer season than 60 games, those two figures would’ve normalized a bit, and that ERA would’ve dropped significantly. That’s one of the largest gaps between expected and actualized performance you’ll ever see.

Kikuchi is a high-strikeout lefty (47 Ks in 47.0 IP) who just posted what should’ve been a bounce-back second season, but instead registered another disappointing campaign. Maybe this is the Yanks’ shot.