We know, we’re going on and on about the New York Yankees trading for a No. 2 starter, but it’s kind of almost a necessity if they want to make it to (and win) the World Series. Granted, it doesn’t have to happen now, but it does need to get done before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
Then again, there are a number of teams orchestrating teardowns that could afford to part ways with some of their valuable assets before the 2021 season begins. Why not maximize the return in a trade right now? And the team guilty of the most obvious fire sale, the Chicago Cubs, has the No. 2 starter the Yankees need in Kyle Hendricks.
The 31-year-old gives us some Mike Mussina vibes with his pitching style. It’s more artful than overwhelming, and the change of pace behind Gerrit Cole and in front of Corey Kluber would elevate the Yankees’ rotation to its highest point in more than a decade. That’s why general manager Brian Cashman needs to call Cubs president Jed Hoyer.
At this point, we sound like a broken record. We’ve talked about this for what feels like a year, even though it’s only been a few months. But Hendricks (or Reds ace Luis Castillo) feel like the only worthwhile options to splurge for in a trade. We’ve talked at length about Castillo as well, but Hendricks is likely more available to be moved because of his contract.
The good news? He’s signed through 2023 at $14 million per season with a $16 million vesting option for 2024. The bad news? That puts the Yankees over the luxury tax threshold, so they’ll probably have to move a couple of guys on the MLB roster in order to free up some money. But based on Hendricks’ performance and contract, he’s worth every penny.
He pitched in Game 7 of the World Series back in 2016, which the Cubs won. Across 175 games (174 starts), the right-hander owns a 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 133 ERA+. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, but he induces a lot soft contact (and ground balls), barely walks anyone, and is extremely efficient in regards to his pitch count in a majority of his outings.
That sure sounds great for the postseason, doesn’t it?
Now, the Cubs may not be inclined to trade Hendricks at the moment in hopes they could stay somewhat competitive in a terrible NL Central coupled with the fact $14 million for a pitcher of Hendricks’ caliber is actually a steal. As cheap as the Cubs are being this offseason, they’re definitely willing to pay that.
That’s why the Yankees need to overwhelm them with a huge trade package. The Cubs haven’t thrown in the towel yet, but the Yu Darvish trade is a sign of things to come, especially with Kris Bryant and maybe Jason Heyward.
Here’s what the Yankees should offer to avoid the Cubs having to even counter:
- Yankees receive: Kyle Hendricks
- Cubs receive: Clint Frazier, Clarke Schmidt, No. 7 prospect Estevan Florial, No. 8 prospect Alexander Vizcaino and Adam Ottavino
It sounds like a lot,. but here’s how it profiles for both teams. For one, the Yankees unload a surplus of talent they don’t need and get the missing World Series piece that has eluded them for years. As for Chicago, they get Frazier, another cost-effective option to use as a building block around Javier Baez and someone who can fill in for Kyle Schwarber in left field. On top of that, they get two outstanding pitching prospects in Clarke Schmidt and Alexander Vizcaino, both of whom could pitch as early as 2021, and outfield prospect Estevan Florial, who’s also ready to go (he’s just blocked by all of the Yankees’ talent at the moment. And finally, because the Cubs are getting an overload of talent, they’ll have to do us a solid and take Ottavino’s $9 million salary for 2021 (he’ll be a free agent after the season).
Yankees fans might think this is too much. Cubs fans might not think it’s enough. Perhaps it’s just about right.