2. Pitching Swap With Cleveland
Last offseason, Cleveland’s Zach Plesac was a hot name on the pitching trade market coming off a 2.28 ERA in eight starts during the shortened 2020.
Of course, Plesac’s 2020 was even shorter than most players’ campaigns; he was caught violating COVID protocols (read: partying in Chicago) and temporarily booted from the team/shipped out in a car service in mid-August.
Though the flame has died down, Plesac’s departure from Cleveland might be even likelier this offseason after a 10-6, 4.67 ERA campaign. After all, the Guardians breed pitchers like nobody’s business, and still sport a rotation with Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, and Triston McKenzie even if Plesac is jettisoned with four years of control to his name.
The issue with Plesac, unfortunately, are his advanced metrics more so than his problematic health care policy. Last season, Plesac’s Statcast percentiles were nearly all in the blue (12% average exit velocity, 15% hard-hit rate, 33% xERA), and he was only truly elite at limiting walks. Maybe, then, Civale becomes New York’s target? His hard-hit rate was also bottom-of-the-barrel, but the spin the Yankees covet was there; 84th percentile in fastball spun and 89th percentile in curveball spin will definitely turn Matt Blake’s head.
If Cleveland does deem Plesac expendable, the Yankees could finally try to fix the Guardians’ outfield picture. Despite the right-hander’s pedestrian stats, he’ll still command a significant return thanks to the four years remaining on his clock to figure it out again. Perhaps it’s a package based around breakout candidate Everson Pereira, who was nearly dealt to Texas last season for Joey Gallo, in addition to Estevan Florial, who’s closer to the bigs? Or maybe that’s the Civale package, and we all just agree to forget about Plesac’s 2020?
No matter the target, the Yankees and Guardians could certainly be talking this spring.