The Yankees need to get out to a hot start in a competitive AL East to make Juan Soto's walk year a good one. They also, apparently, need the Milwaukee Brewers to start slow.
Now, more than ever: Go Cubs, Reds, Cardinals and Pirates!
While focusing on the trade deadline means kicking the can down the road -- and exposing yourself to the possibility of getting caught with your pants down, sans-safety net -- the Yankees pounced on Marcus Stroman and filled out their five-man rotation so they wouldn't have to make an uncomfortable move in January. A long-term Jordan Montgomery deal was a bad personality fit from the start; the Yankees made sure in the summer of 2022 that he wouldn't want to be here. New York has also moved on from Blake Snell's $270 million ask, joining a long line of passers that includes The Entirety of Baseball.
So, what's next? Dylan Cease's price is astronomical to the point of "The Producers"-esque absurdity. They're not trying to move him. They're trying to flop. Shane Bieber and his worrisome elbow aren't on the market, either. Ditto Triston "Yankee Fan From Birth" McKenzie.
Neither is Corbin Burnes, though if things go south for the Brewers, he certainly could be. According to Bob Klapisch, Hal Steinbrenner does not view his third-of-a-year salary as prohibitively expensive to add at the deadline whatsoever. Now, the Yankees just have to A) make it to the deadline in a position where splurging makes sense and B) outbid a crowded field.
Yankees going all in for Milwaukee Brewers' Corbin Burnes at trade deadline
Burnes would, objectively, be the most dominant force the Yankees could add to the 2024 rotation, as well as a candidate to stick around long-term if Cashman and Hal want to "pony up" and make New York the "mecca" they were reportedly intent on forming earlier this winter. The Milwaukee righty is one of very few hosses in the game similar to Cole, and would be a potentially elite partner for the Yankees' incumbent ace. His 193.2 innings, 200 Ks and 3.39 ERA/3.81 FIP last season would be welcomed. They also represented a step back for Burnes, who struck out 234 men in 167 innings two seasons ago, posting a 2.43 ERA in his Cy Young year.
Burnes has finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting every year since 2020, and as long as Steinbrenner's fine with a midstream salary addition, it would be hard to envision the Yankees doing any better here. Now, they just have to find a way to finesse a deal without surrendering Spencer Jones.
They also have to find a way to motivate the rest of the NL Central to lay an early hurting on Milwaukee.