1. Choosing Jameson Taillon Over Joe Musgrove
Every offseason, you can do a retroactive, “Why did they do X when they could’ve done Y thing that worked for someone else by accident?” and it never feels great. Like, come on. Were the Yankees really supposed to sign Carlos Rodon this offseason? Would we have cheered them if they had, coming off an 8.22 ERA with his career nearly over? C’mon.
But with Joe Musgrove vs. Jameson Taillon, the choice was clear and the Yankees opted for the slight discount.
Taillon, once a top Pirates pitching prospect, was coming off his second Tommy John surgery, at the very beginning of a long road to recovery. Of course, game speed is different from practice tempo, and Taillon was attempting to entirely change his mechanics on the fly. Gerrit Cole, his old friend from the Pittsburgh farm system, sold the front office on his comeback potential, but at the heart of it, the Yankees tried to give up less for a potential No. 2 or 3 starter rather than pay “top dollar” for Musgrove, the Pirates’ hottest pitching commodity who everyone agreed was on the verge of a breakout.
What happened? He went to the Padres and broke out. Immediately.
Musgrove has whiffed 103 men in 85 innings for his hometown Pads, sporting a 2.22 ERA after taking down the Dodgers on Thursday night. He ended up moving to San Diego in a bizarre three-team trade with the Mets, who received starter Joey Lucchesi while several prospects (highlighted by Hudson Head) went to Pittsburgh. The Yankees could’ve matched that.
In fact, they gave up top prospects Roansy Contreras (who’s broken out, striking out 64 men in 45 Double-A innings) and Miguel Yajure in exchange for Taillon, who tires very early when he does have good stuff and rarely does have his best arsenal.
This was always going to be a long row to hoe for Taillon, and he’s likely excited he has Cole back to mentor him, but a 5.18 ERA won’t cut it when we can see what Musgrove’s up to. Not a bad move in a vacuum, but the Yankees should’ve packaged both pitchers together or gotten another sure thing alongside Jamo.