This current New York Yankees roster has largely been built through trades and homegrown players. Would you crap your pants if we told you the only “big” free agent expenditures are Gerrit Cole and DJ LeMahieu? Seriously, there’s no one else. That’s how little the Yankees have spent in free agency over the last five or so years.
Dating back to 2016, general manager Brian Cashman has orchestrated countless trades to upgrade the roster. Some have failed (Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn) while others have become important pieces (not going to name them so we don’t spoil what’s to come).
However, some of those important pieces have either not yet panned out (because the trades recently happened) or have regressed, both of which have contributed to the Yankees’ stunning lack of success these last two seasons.
Heading into 2022, though, with so much on the line before a number of even more important roster decisions have to be made, New York needs a lot more out of these previous trade acquisitions if they hope to be a true contender in the American League.
Cashman’s trades have affected every pocket of this roster. Seriously. From the bullpen to the rotation to the position players and even the farm system, his moves have had wide-reaching ramifications.
But who exactly needs to improve their production given their importance to this roster as we approach a new season?
These 4 Yankees acquired via trade need to perform better in 2022.
4. Jameson Taillon
For what Jameson Taillon endured between 2017 and 2020, his 2021 season was actually really good. Battling testicular cancer and overcoming a second Tommy John surgery after having hardly pitched since the beginning of 2019 was never going to yield the best results. There were always going to be limitations when he was acquired from the Pirates.
He finished the year with a 4.30 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 29 starts. He struck out 140 batters in 144.1 innings of work. This was all after he changed his mechanics and he managed to improve his overall numbers despite a disastrous start to the season.
Unfortunately, he needed ankle surgery after the season and that’s definitely affected his offseason, but that’s light work compared to what he’s been through. The truth is, the Yankees acquired him before last season for what he could do in 2022. They knew there’d be growing pains and issues in 2021.
Taillon has top-of-the-rotation potential, as evidenced by his 2018 campaign when he finished with a 3.20 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 122 ERA+ and 1.18 WHIP in 32 starts (191 innings). Though that’s a tall ask, the Yankees need something in between that and his showing last year. If he can be a mid-3.00 ERA pitcher, this trade will be deemed a huge success and the starting rotation would be stabilized more than we could’ve ever hoped for.
He has the potential to be the guy we hand the ball to in a five-game playoff series. He doesn’t need to be that, but he needs to get closer to it.