Tale as old as time. True as it can be. The Yankees needed to improve their rotation this offseason, so they engaged with a bad team with a few shining rotation options. Given the 50-50 chance of picking right between Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon, the Yanks went with the cheaper bounce-back option.
Naturally, Taillon’s been a tough watch while Musgrove has thrived. That part was so predictable you could set your watch to it, and your watch would say, “This is a tough watch.”
The second half of the story was a bit less predictable, but also essentially 21st-century Yankees: they “gave up less” to save prospect capital, but actually … gave up more.
Roansy Contreras — not even the headliner of the trade, and someone seen as a future 40-man conundrum — has now zoomed all the way to the back end of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list.
The pitchers protected in his stead — Yoendrys Gomez and Alexander Vizcaino — have barely appeared this season. Contreras, all of 21 years old, has struck out 64 men at Double-A in 45 innings to the tune of a 2.00 ERA on the dot.
So, again, that’s:
- Trade for more questionable asset
- Watch less questionable asset get traded and thrive
- Watch more questionable asset struggle
- Surrender more for more questionable asset than less questionable asset got
- Sell fewer $55 parking spaces than you thought, but only slightly fewer. Still profit
The Yankees picked wrong 100 times with the Jameson Taillon trade.
At the time, Musgrove had a breakout coming so blindingly obvious that every Twitter GM from here to Altoona had him pegged. Naturally, he’s lived up to expectations out west, coming home to San Diego to post a 2.22 ERA while whiffing 103 in 85 innings.
Speaking of, why don’t the Yankees ever find anyone energized by “coming home” to New York? Ah, right. Because people who grew up Red Sox and Padres fans want to win for their city, and people who “grew up Yankee fans” are typically just lying about it and love money.
Of course, the Pirates knew what they had in Musgrove, too, and the Yankees thought they could get sneaky and snag a rehabbing Taillon to fill their No. 2 role for a lesser price, thanks to the sage recommendation of Gerrit Cole.
That price officially no longer qualifies as “lesser,” considering Miguel Yajure is still a polished 23-year-old righty (though he’s rehabbing some sort of arm injury) and Contreras looks like a stronger prospect than beloved Yankees pitcher Deivi Garcia, who couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat — unless the water set up in the batters box. Then he could hit it.
Now, I’m a Yankees fan. And without any hesitation, I can tell you that if the reverse of this deal had gone down, and Musgrove had been a Yankee while Taillon had gone to California, the results would be entirely different. Taillon would be the Comeback Player of the Year, shaking off adversity to wear the Swag Chain for the first time after completing a sweep of the Dodgers. Musgrove would be struggling to locate his breaking ball, culminating with a meltdown first inning at Fenway that would have even the most rational fans crying “sign stealing.”
Contreras, of course, would either be hurt or have a 1.48 WHIP at High-A.
Alas, we’re not living in that alternate universe where everything went wrong in a different way. We’re living in this one, where the Yankees’ attempt to save a little off the top backfired in all directions.