After one up-and-down week of the 2021 MLB season, what could the Yankees really use?
Another high-upside starting pitcher wouldn’t hurt; the rotation was largely excellent one turn through, though three of those starts lasted under five innings (two intentionally, one not so much).
First and foremost, this team could absolutely use some multi-positional utility guys who could play shortstop in a pinch (or, cough, in the late innings of a close game).
They just sprung for Rougned Odor … for whatever reason, but could still use a part-time SS, part-time LF, full-time helpful piece.
So, let’s throw caution to the wind for a second: which targets would fulfill this dream?
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re only looking at versatile bats and ace types on teams that are either trailing the pack or surely will be soon, and we’re definitely examining more than just the one-week sample size we’ve been given.
In an ideal world, this list would include the most versatile of all and my personal favorite target Whit Merrifield of the Royals, who’s already proven his value this season for a team that … may contend for the postseason? If you squint hard enough? Eh, probably not, but they added veterans this offseason in a way that most middling teams didn’t, so they’re clearly trying to be somewhat competitive.
Most importantly, though, Merrifield doesn’t play short. Or center. And he’s not a pinch-running type. So unfortunately, though I’d love him, he’s doesn’t fit the bill here.
These three targets feel much dreamier.
The Yankees could go after these three dream trade targets from middling teams.
3. Corbin Burnes
I picked Corbin Burnes as my ace-type Brewer over Brandon Woodruff by a nose just because I believe Woodruff is more likely to be prioritized by the Crew. He’s a bit more of a horse — and hey, guess what, I’ll take him! — but Burnes could be the more available piece.
Dare I say it … these two names are more attainable than Luis Castillo of the Reds, whose velocity has decreased a bit in the early going. The Milwaukee Brewers also traded their former starting shortstop last week, and are clearly interested in shuffling middle infielders. If they believe in Gleyber Torres at short…
Sorry, got sidetracked there for a second. Back to Burnes.
Through two starts, Burnes has posted a ridiculous 20 whiffs in 12.1 innings pitched, fulfilling his destiny as a popular breakout candidate after a 4-1 record with 88 strikeouts in 59.2 innings and a 2.03 FIP in the shortened 2020 season. Quite simply, Burnes can bring it. You might’ve seen him featured last week as the non-Jose Berrios half of a double no-hit bid against the Twins at American Family Field.
If New York decides to pursue a high-level pitching upgrade this deadline, they should look to Milwaukee — but not for Josh Hader.