The jury might still be out on the New York Yankees well into August. There’s just no telling what the 2021 iteration of this team is truly capable of.
We might sit here and call their first half of 2021 a “rollercoaster” — and in a sense it was. But beyond that, it was a bad three-plus months of baseball given the assortment of talent on the roster. There’s no excuse for a 46-43 record heading into the All-Star break when you have names like Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and more.
Fans could trace back the issues with this team to general manager Brian Cashman, who assembled a righty-heavy lineup, offered contract extensions to players far too early (when the team famously doesn’t offer extensions before a player’s contract year), and passed up on countless preferable free agents/trade targets over the last seven or so years.
Face it: the Yankees, for their standards, have been pretty damn bad since 2013. They’ve been punked by every hateable team. Their trash talk always backfires. They’ve gotten far too few “big game” performances from their top guys.
What’re we trying to say here? OK, we’ll spit it out. The Yankees needed a convincing stretch before the All-Star break and after it to justify the front office going out and making blockbuster moves to help restore order and make the Bombers World Series contenders. Despite the series win over the Red Sox this weekend to bring New York to 48-44, it’s clear the problems with this roster run much deeper than whatever disgusting voodoo has plagued them so far.
In summation, making blockbuster rental acquisitions ahead of the July 31 trade deadline is NOT the answer. Making moves for 2022 and beyond should certainly be the philosophy. There’s no sense in attempting to go for it all in a year in which hardly anything has gone your way.
The Yankees need to avoid trading for these three rental candidates at the deadline.
3. Jon Gray
The Yankees do need starting pitching help. What they don’t need, however, is an expensive rental who may or may not be able to move the needle. If they’re dipping into the rental waters to fortify this area of the roster, it needs to be for a Max Scherzer type.
That’s nothing against Jon Gray, however, who could be cooking up a career year with the Colorado Rockies. That’s great timing for the right-hander ahead of free agency, but not for the Yankees, who are shopping for starting pitching while his trade value is at an all-time high.
Gray has a 3.68 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 3.99 FIP across his 17 starts this year and has only allowed one home run per nine innings. His fastball is averaging a cool 95 MPH and he pairs that with a devastating slider. Both really good pitches. He mixes in a curve and a changeup as well, but much less frequently.
In 2021, he’s avoiding barrels at an incredible rate (86th percentile), is inducing soft contact (72nd percentile in hard hit %) and possesses a .223 expecting batting average against. All what you want in a starter IF you’re a bonafide contender looking for a luxury addition.
Not the Yankees! We don’t know what they are, and Gray’s career 4.48 ERA and 1.33 WHIP (though an encouraging 3.96 FIP) will not be worth the asking price, especially since the Rockies have a floundering asset in the struggling Trevor Story.