What if the Yankees and Pirates talked a different kind of trade?
The biggest piece of Yankees buzz to come out of the Winter Meetings was a trade rumor involving the Pittsburgh Pirates, who was said to have discussed two players — Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon — with New York. The veracity of that has yet to be determined, but we’re going to further speculate anyway. Why not?
While Yankees fans were dying for almost any news regarding the team, this bit didn’t exactly get many excited because it’s assumed that if Bell is acquired, Luke Voit will likely be on the move in some capacity — maybe not back to Pittsburgh, but certainly somewhere. Bell isn’t a backup first baseman, Voit isn’t a platoon first baseman, and the DH spot is occupied.
So how about we shift around these trade talks a little bit? What if the Yankees subtracted Bell and instead made a play for Taillon and infielder Kevin Newman?
This would much better suit the Yankees. Taillon is a classic Brian Cashman somewhat-under-the-radar acquisition and would help fortify the starting rotation, despite testicular cancer and a second Tommy John surgery derailing his last couple seasons (only seven starts since the beginning of 2019). However, he owns 3.67 ERA in 82 career starts and has a high ceiling with a fastball, changeup, slider and curve arsenal.
As for Newman, the 27-year-old hasn’t even hit arbitration yet and he’d be a great backup/utility infielder, who could still get a ton of reps. He’s a starter with the Pirates, but he could play all over the diamond in New York and not really miss a beat. Newman can play second base, shortstop, third base and some outfield, and the Yankees would love his potential to unleash a contact-heavy bat, which he showed in 2019 when he hit .308 in 130 games.
The only problem is his defense at shortstop needs improvement (he was good for -7 DRS in 2019), but he’s young and has shown flashes of potential up the middle. If the Yankees can shore up his technique in spring training, that’d increase his value even more.
Alright, so what would this cost? Taillon could likely be had on the cheaper side because of his unfortunate situations and Newman is coming off a lackluster 2020. On the flip side, both of them are cheap, so the Pirates may not let the Yankees get away with highway robbery here. They could drive a hard bargain.
Could prospects Luis Gil, Estevan Florial and Josh Breaux get the job done? That’s a pitcher, an outfielder and a catcher, which could entice Pittsburgh. They all still need some time develop and would be under club control for quite some time. Some might view that as an overpay, but the Yankees are also trading from a surplus in all of those areas.
Whatever the case, this variation of a trade with the Pirates would make Yankees fans feel a little bit better.