1. Merrill Kelly
Merrill Kelly has the highest ERA on this list (5.30), and if the Yankees spring for him, he would definitely be the wildest bet of them all. But No. 29 for the Arizona Diamondbacks just might be the lucky number in this crazy game of pitcher roulette.
The 32-year-old is only in his third MLB season, but so far, he doesn’t look like he fits into Arizona’s rebuilding plan and could be traded to the Yankees for a spot in the starting rotation. Kelly is one of the more interesting trade assets out there; he was an eighth-round pick of the Rays back in 2010, but never made it to the big leagues. He then tried his hand at the Korea Baseball Organization before landing a two-year contract at the D-backs, where he’s established himself as a real-time big-leaguer in 37 starts.
Kelly’s game isn’t going to turn any heads, and he’s unlikely to return to the sub-3 ERA he achieved in a streak of games in 2020, but all metrics point to Kelly as a very league-average starter. He can be an upgrade for New York playing fourth or fifth fiddle to Gerrit Cole, and if there’s one thing that’s consistent about him, its that he’s good at being average.
His potentially cheap price tag would also be a low-risk trade option for the Yankees, one that could get them more bang for their buck. All in all, Kelly is a sneaky valuable who could do better than people think in the East.
And, uh…perhaps he might pair nicely with one of the many other available Diamondbacks? A center fielder named Marte? A lefty bat named David Peralta? Just spitballing here.