Is Ken Waldichuk going to be Yankees’ contributor or ultimate trade bait?
After a quick re-rank of the New York Yankees‘ farm system, Ken Waldichuk is now the organization’s top pitching prospect (No. 6 overall), according to MLB.com.
The left-hander needed just seven starts at High-A Hudson Valley last season (he didn’t give up a SINGLE RUN) before getting promoted to Double-A Somerset, where he’s began the 2022 campaign.
We’re witnessing similar results to his run with the Renegades this season, too. Through his first five outings, Waldichuk owns a 1.14 ERA and 0.80 WHIP with 40 strikeouts in 23.2 innings of work. Last year, he logged 16 games (14 starts) at Double-A and finished with a 4.20 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, but logged 108 strikeouts in 79.1 innings. Remarkable.
Truth be told, only a couple of those outings really ruined his ERA and WHIP, too, though we must admit that walks have been a bit of an issue for him.
He’s issued nine free passes so far this season, but he’s still whiffing batter after batter and has allowed only 10 hits! Ten! His stock is rising by the minute.
On Sunday, he twirled a magnificent outing, which was the best of his pro career. He struck out 12 batters over five scoreless innings and didn’t surrender a hit — just three walks.
What are the Yankees going to do with Ken Waldichuk?
So that’s got us wondering … are the Yankees going to squeeze Waldichuk into their second-half plans (assuming he continues his rise) or will he be used as premier trade bait at the deadline?
Why do we ask? Well, fans cannot seriously bank on the current bullpen lasting this entire season start to finish without a hitch. There’s going to be something, whether injuries, regressions or fatigue occur at any point. That’s the argument to eventually make Waldichuk a contributor on the big-league roster.
Don’t think this stuff will play in The Show? Think again!
On the other hand, the Yankees have famously had problems in the recent past working out blockbuster trades with rival GMs. The asking price is always that much higher for New York and their prospects/assets are always more devalued than the next suitor in line. For some recent examples, see the Gerrit Cole/Astros trade, Matt Olson/Braves trade, Matt Boyd/Gleyber Torres trade rumors, Luis Castillo trade rumors, and more. The list goes on and on.
The Yankees have refused to sell the top talent in their farm, which is why they didn’t make any high-profile deals after the lockout and have kept a glut of infield talent (Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Trey Sweeney) in addition to Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells. Selling high on Waldichuk could get the Yankees another star player to push for a World Series, even though he might be the truth.
Then again, with Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon (and potentially Luis Severino!) hitting free agency after 2022, there will be rotation spots up for grabs come 2023, when Waldichuk will presumably be ready to mow down the competition at the MLB level.
If we’re to guess? The Yankees are going to hold onto him because of their penchant for keeping top talent when they’re set to lose costly veterans. We’re not going to rule out a trade, however, if Cashman sees an opportunity that can’t be passed on this July.