As the winter ended, it seemed quite likely that A) Flexen, who was quite excellent in 2021 and an average innings-eater in 2022, wouldn't make the Mariners rotation and B) the Yankees would leave camp with too many infielders for too few spots. When Luis Severino went down late in the spring, following injuries to Carlos Rodón and a complication with Frankie Montas, a Flexen trade felt even more obvious for these Yankees.
Perhaps Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be exchanged for Flexen straight up? Maybe the deal would grow larger with the inclusion of Gleyber Torres (which seemed less likely when Kolten Wong was signed, an equally hilariously outdated thought that seemed viable 3.5 months ago)? Either way, the Yankees required rotation experience, and the Ms seemed done with Flexen. Jerry Dipoto loves to deal. Natural fit.
Except ... the Yankees stood pat, believing in their own rotation depth pieces like Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez, instead of dealing from another strength to add a fungible, proven arm. So far, so ... good there? Schmidt was awful in April, but has been much better since. Brito was demoted, but had a great outing in Toronto before he left and just tamed Seattle. Vásquez is beloved here for his two starts.
And now, Flexen has been DFA'd. Yankees can have him if they want him! Spoiler: It won't cost them Torres this time.
Yankees Rumors: NYY should be glad they didn't trade anything of value for Mariners' Chris Flexen
This season, the only thing that's gone as predicted for Flexen was his removal from the rotation. He currently sports a 7.71 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 42 innings (13 relief appearances, four starts). He's subtracted 0.9 bWAR from the Mariners in very limited duty.
His last appearance in a Seattle uniform? Two innings of mop-up duty to finish Seattle's 10-2 win over the Yankees in the Bronx just last week (he allowed those two runs).
Nothing about Flexen's 2023 regression can retroactively change the fact that he was quite effective over the past two seasons -- especially in 2021, when he broke out after leaving the Mets organization, changing speeds and eye levels effectively en route to a 14-6 record, 3.61 ERA and 114 ERA+ in 179.2 innings. A finesse pitcher, Flexen's line gets significantly uglier when he stops fooling hitters, considering he doesn't miss many bats along the way even at his peak.
This version of Flexen wouldn't be worth any of New York's trade chips, and it's the version of Flexen they would've received if they'd panicked and cleared out an infield logjam in an odd way, post-Severino injury. Never listen to sportswriters.