The New York Yankees may not be direct competitors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but this is the one team they really have to worry about come October. Assuming the Bombers make it all the way to the World Series, you can bet they’ll likely be facing LA, barring a serious balance of power shift in the National League.
As we’ve said a thousand times before, the next two years are the Yankees’ prime window to end their 11-year title drought (assuming they can stay healthy). And though they clearly made moves in order to get closer to that goal, they also proceeded with caution thanks to their own self-imposed financial restraint and made sure to remain below the $210 million luxury tax threshold. The Dodgers? They blew $30 million past it.
The Yankees took months to make their moves, which finally culminated with the signings of DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber in addition to the trade for Jameson Taillon. On paper, that’s just not enough to beat the Dodgers, and it’s not sending a message to anybody. Good moves? Yes. But DJ was already on this Yankees team while Kluber and Taillon have made 15 combined starts since the beginning of 2019.
A lot of financial gymnastics. A lot of risks. A lot of “high upside.” The Yankees need a sure thing, so its’ time to blow the Cincinnati Reds away with a trade offer for Luis Castiilo.
It’s time the Yankees trade for Reds starter Luis Castillo.
It doesn’t matter who it takes. Anybody from a prospect standpoint with the exception of Jasson Dominguez should be sent to Cincy to get this deal done, and the Yankees can formulate a package to overwhelm the Reds. Castillo is signed through 2023 and carries just a $4.2 million price tag for this year, which would still keep the Yankees under the tax by a few million, leaving them with some in-season flexibility to make another deal or signing.
The Dodgers now have a literal army of starting pitchers, which is the most important facet of a team’s roster come October. Bauer joins Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin. The Yankees? Gerrit Cole (great), Kluber, Taillon, Domingo German (hasn’t pitched since Sept. 2019), Luis Severino (five starts since the beginning of 2019), Jordan Montgomery (17 starts since the beginning of 2018) and prospects Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt. That’s hardly a top-to-bottom reliable unit.
Throw Castillo into the mix, however, and you have a solidified 1-2 punch. Then if one of Kluber and Taillon hits, you have a three-headed monster. If they both hit? You’re golden. Then perhaps one of German, Severino or Montgomery can lock down the No. 5 spot, and the other two add depth. Now we’re talking. That’s best-case scenario, however. What the Yankees need is three surefire answers atop the rotation, and they’d probably get that with Cole, Castillo and Kluber/Taillon.
Pitching has proven to be the X-factor for the last four World Series champs. The Astros, Red Sox, Nationals and Dodgers had an arsenal of starters and relievers ready to step in and get the job done in October. That (as well as untimely offensive droughts) have been the Yankees biggest problem.
As their No. 1 competitor for the Commissioner’s Trophy continues to make additions that fortify their roster beyond belief, the Yankees can’t keep being overly strategic with their transactions. Go and do it. Get Luis Castillo for whatever price it takes assuming it doesn’t affect your MLB roster and get a ring within the next two years.