Matt Blake's former pupil stuck wishing he'd landed with Yankees after surprise DFA

The Yankees-to-Guardians pipeline makes sense.
Cleveland Guardians v Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Guardians v Kansas City Royals / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

If it feels like it wasn't too long ago Cal Quantrill was starting playoff games against the New York Yankees, that's because it was exactly one year ago.

Cal -- son of Paul, heir to QuanGorMo -- broke out in 2021 and 2022, shedding his "vaunted prospect" status and making the most of his varied arsenal, going 23-8 with ERAs of 2.89 and 3.38. He threw 186 regular-season innings in '22 (though he struck out only 128 batters), then received starts in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS.

Sure, he lost both. Sure, he posted a small sample size "5.40 ERA" in 10 total innings. Sure, he was bested by Gerrit Cole and was the only pitcher the Yankees could reliably hit (until the finale, shoutout to Aaron Civale). But that doesn't mean a DFA was expected just one winter later.

The Guardians, blaming up-in-the-air cable revenue (?), decided that Quantrill's $6.5 million salary and unpalatable 2023 were all the evidence they needed to cut bait. Given Cleveland's prowess at developing pitching, they might not be wrong in thinking they could do better for cheaper. They had the same confidence in trading Civale midway through a breakout season last year, and it netted them Kyle Manzardo. It might not be fun to root for a team with so many changing faces, but at least the Guards get results.

Yankees almost had a shot at Cal Quantrill on waiver wire...just kidding.

And one of those result-getters is now in the Yankees dugout: pitching coach Matt Blake, the team's smartest personnel hire since Joe Torre. If the chips fall their way in the waiver order, New York should absolutely consider taking a chance on Quantrill, especially as they prepare to trade some of their upper-level pitching depth for Juan Soto.

Even if Quantrill ends up a bulk guy or his struggles continue, he'll cost less than Lou Trivino and Kyle Higashioka combined. That's hardly a burden. It's quite possible New York would've been the best landing spot for the right-hander ... if the Rockies hadn't stepped in on Friday and ruined the fun. Quantrill will go to Denver in exchange for a minor-league catcher, and he might be in for a heap of trouble. Trouble that Blake will likely be watching from afar with a concerned eye and air of wistfulness for what could've been.

The exit velocities Quantrill induced were still in the league's upper quartile last year, though he completely stopped missing bats somewhere along the way. Quantrill doesn't have to be Shane Bieber to be successful, but he needs an airtight defense behind him and must develop some offering to escape the literal first percentile in K%. That package doesn't play well with the extremely thin Colorado air.

Rumor had it, heading into the week, that the Guardians were interested in shopping Quantrill. Clearly, nothing materialized and they took drastic action instead. The Yankees maybe should've been swayed by Cleveland's desperation to hop the line. Instead, the fates had other ideas.

While it won't be Quantrill, adding a righty with a recent track record of success would still behoove the Yankees, especially considering how often they were down to their eighth and ninth starters last season (and how quickly it happened). Back to the drawing board, though.