The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers had been connected to seemingly every available pitcher in the weeks leading up to the 2015 MLB trade deadline, but the two big-market teams find themselves running out of options. With just one more day to make a move, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for either team to significantly improve their starting rotation with a star pitcher.
David Price has been the most recent pitcher to be dealt, going to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for three minor-league prospects. New York and L.A. had been interested in the now-former Detroit Tigers’ ace, as well as pitchers like Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto, who have also been traded.
The Yankees are in a much more desperate position than the Dodgers. Los Angeles have been looking to strengthen their rotation and add a potentially dominant No.3 starter, but Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke still give them the best one-two punch in baseball. Not only does New York have issues at the backend of their rotation, but the team might not be able to rely on their top starters.
Less than 24 hours after Masahiro Tanaka had a poor outing and saw his earned-run average move to 3.80, less than desirable for a No.1 starter, the Yankees have scratched Michael Pineda from his start on Thursday night. WFAN’s Mike Francesa reported that an injury would force Pineda to miss his start, and likely put him on the DL. The long-time sports radio host added that pitcher Ivan Nova is “hurting.”
Pineda has Grade 1 forearm strain. Same as Miller, who missed a month. Being put on DL, but #Yankees feel he will pitch again this yr
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 30, 2015
Between an injury to at least one of their starters and C.C. Sabathia performing like a No. 5 starter, it’s becoming apparent the Yankees might need another arm if they hope to even have a chance of winning the World Series. The Yankees own a six-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and are likely to reach the playoffs. General manager Brian Cashman is no doubt aware of the questionable rotation, and would like to strengthen it before Friday.
With most of the big names being dealt, James Shields might be the best pitcher available. The San Diego Padres have reportedly made a few of their best players available, and it looks like they’d be willing to move Shields and the $63 million he’s owed from 2016-2018. Shields has been very consistent throughout his MLB career, starting more than 30 games in each year since 2007 while posting a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the last five seasons.
New York is looking to rebuild their farm system, and trading top prospects Aaron Judge or Luis Severino is probably out of the question. But catching prospect Gary Sanchez is highly regarded and expendable because of the Yankees depth at the position.
If the Yankees don’t want to take on the money that is owed to Shields, they could rent a starter for the final two months of the season. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake is available because he will be a free agent in the offseason. Leake’s 3.56 ERA would make him a more than serviceable option, and an acceptable consolation prize after the Yankees missed out on Johnny Cueto, who the Reds dealt to the Kansas City Royals.
The Dodgers had been strongly pursuing a top starting pitcher, though there have been reports that they could also add a lesser name. L.A. has reportedly shown interest in both Leake and Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo isn’t under contract for next season, and he’s pitched to a 3.19 ERA for the Texas Rangers in 2015.
But if the Dodgers can’t add a pitcher that’s good enough to be a No.1 or No.2 starter on most teams, it might not make sense for them to make another deal. The team is reportedly set to add starters Mat Latos and Alex Wood, and ESPN's Jayson Stark reports that Wood won’t be traded for an even bigger name.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija had been at the center of trade rumors for the past few weeks, but a recent seven-game winning streak has Chicago making a push towards the playoffs. White Sox ace Chris Sale was considered a possible trade target in June, but there is little reason to believe a deal for the 26-year-old will happen anytime soon.
Unless the Dodgers can find a team willing to unload a top starter, L.A. will likely stand pat at the deadline. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has shown an unwillingness to deal neither left-sided infielder Corey Seager nor teenage pitching sensation Julio Urias. Jose De Leon, who was ranked as the No. 20 prospect in Baseball America's midseason report, is also still on the squad despite the flurry of deals this week.
Should Friedman pull the trigger on another trade, it could involve smaller pieces. The Dodgers may consider dealing recently acquired veteran slugger Michael Morse and infield prospect Jose Peraza (ranked No. 26 by Baseball America), since neither is expected to play a major role in 2015.