The Yankees have made clear that their first offseason priority is to upgrade their pitching staff. The most obvious fixes would come from the free agent market in the form of Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ or CC Sabathia.
But now, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, there could be multiple aces available via trade as the Indians and Mariners look to shed costs. He reports the Yankees are interested in RHPs Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber from the Indians and LHP James Paxton from the Mariners.
Carrasco made 32 appearances in 2018, going 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA (2.94 FIP) for Cleveland. He has made at least 30 starts in three out of his last four seasons, and owns a 3.40 ERA (3.12 FIP) across that span. Carrasco relies on 5 pitches: Four Seamer (31.4%), Slider (30.9%), Changeup (16.4%), Sinker (13.2%), Curve (8.2%).
Kluber leads all MLB pitchers in fWAR since 2014 with a whopping 31.0. He went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA (3.12 FIP) in 2018, and was named as a finalist for the 2018 American League Cy Young Award. He won the award in 2017. Kluber relies on 5 pitches: Sinker (32.7%), Cutter (29.5%), Curve (22.4%), Four Seamer (8.8%), Changeup (6.6%).
Paxton is the lone lefty of the group, going 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 28 starts in 2018. He missed 17 days on two separate occasions, however, because of lower back inflammation and a left forearm contusion. The issue with Paxton is that you can bank on at least two different disabled list stints per season, as he dealt with a left forearm strain and left pectoral muscle strain in 2017. Paxton relies on 4 pitches: Four Seamer (63.6%), Curve (21.5%), Cutter (14.4%), Changeup (0.4%).
Now, let’s look at the contractual obligations of all three. Each is controllable for multiple years, which will add to the prospect cost.
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Kluber easily has the most team-friendly deal. He provides so much more value than his contract is priced for. I think the Yankees should aim high for Kluber, then fallback on Carrasco should that deal not work out. I’m not the highest on Paxton because of his inability to stay healthy and because of his reliance on fastballs.