Yankees’ risky rotation strategy takes next worrisome step with Taillon talks


The Yankees appear to be valuing “inside info” and friendships over peripherals and long-term health and stability. Hence, the Jameson Taillon trade talks.

Late Saturday night, a series of dots that have been connected repeatedly throughout the offseason started to fill themselves in a bit, as reports emerged that the Yankees and Pirates’ Jameson Taillon talks were beginning to bubble and boil.

Taillon is an upside play like Joe Musgrove — someone whom the Yankees also reportedly were in on recently — but he comes with a far more checkered injury history, currently rehabilitating from his second Tommy John surgery.

That sounds like someone the Yanks would love an insider’s perspective on, as he recovers from major surgery under shroud of secrecy.

Shockingly (read: not shockingly at all), the Yankees probably have peered behind the curtain there, in much the same way that Eric Cressey gave them an early assessment of Corey Kluber’s rehabilitation prior to his league-wide showcase.

Taillon is an old friend of the team’s $324 million man Gerrit Cole, and if the team isn’t going to surpass the luxury tax in Cole’s prime, they might as well replace Masahiro Tanaka with one of his other close compatriots.

That…almost makes sense?

Unfortunately, the Yankees seem prepared to use a year of Cole’s prime employing a Tampa Bay Rays-like strategy of accruing risky arm after risky arm, hoping that three pan out prior to the playoffs — or someone like Kyle Hendricks comes alive at the deadline.

On the surface, it seems quite possible that (takes deep breath) Kluber, Taillon, Luis Severino, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia and Michael King will produce three above-average candidates for October service.

But the way the team appears to be assessing its targets leaves a lot to be desired.

You can be optimistic and assume the Yankees are employing their connections to obtain inside scoops and make calculated risks, or you can see exactly how far they’re going to remain under the luxury tax, and pessimistically assess this whole thing as a relationship-based cost-cutting measure.

Adding to the pessimistic view? Kluber didn’t come cheap; $11 million isn’t peanuts for a recovering ace. It’s a heightened total based on a high level of competition following a positive performance in a public showcase.

And it’s a number that indicates the Yankees were placating Cressey and Kluber, and stuck to their guns (perhaps in fulfilling a promise?) even after it stopped making financial sense, based on their grand limiting plan.

Then again, according to former MLB GM Jim Bowden, the Yankees have prodded the Rockies about Kyle Freeland and German Marquez, and Colorado isn’t budging. If that’s the case, then Taillon may truly be their last resort this offseason, and the relationship with Cole will be a feature, not a bug.

There’ll be a lot of finger-crossing in the Bronx if this deal is completed, and plenty of reasons to question the Yankees’ motivations.