Yankee fans have been waiting patiently for moves to be made in order to improve the starting pitching question. Cashman was fed up with the hate from Twitter and decided to do what he knows best, make head-turning trades. He did just that this morning.
It is not the flashiest move, nor the most exciting, but it is a move that was needed. Jameson Taillon is excellent pitching, with exciting pitches in his arsenal. Another attractive aspect of this trade is his contract. He is due to make just $2.25 million in 2021 after he avoided arbitration. Taillon has two years left of club control, and his contract will help keep the Yankees under the $210 million dollar luxury tax threshold.
Taillon has spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came out of high school in 2010 considered the "best pitching prospect since Josh Beckett". He was drafted second in that draft between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, not a big deal. He posses a 29-24 record, with 419 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA. The 6-foot-5 pitcher has a dominant fastball and power curve. His four-seamer and two-seamer both can top mid 90's. His stuff is what some say you envision at the top of your rotation, and his potential is very high. His downfall, and what makes this acquisition a risk, is the fact that Taillon has had two Tommy John surgeries already, plus surgery for testicular cancer. He is scheduled to return with no issue this season, but he has not pitched since 2019. He went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in seven starts that season. The season prior, he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA. All of this "what if?" is surely worth the risk.
The Yankees did not have to dish out the house to acquire the 29-year-old. New York shipped off RHP Roansy Contreras, INF Maikol Escotto, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Miguel Yajure. We saw Yajure pitch last season, and he showed some impressive stuff, but the bullpen is dealing with a bit of a log jam, and he would not have full ability to perform on this team for quite some time. The Pirates land some future depth, acquiring the 15th, 19th, and 21th ranked prospects in the Yankees system. If all goes as plan, it is a win-win for both sides. He reunites with his good friend, Gerrit Cole, who gave a resounding confirmation to the Yank's brass in efforts to acquire the pitcher.
It must be disheartening to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. The team has not shown promise in years, and this offseason they have traded Taillon, their ace in Joe Musgrove, and All-Star first baseman Josh Bell. They also in the past traded away Cole, Austin Meadows, and Tyler Glasnow. Sure, they are landing future potential, but it seems like the same story every season for them.
The starting rotation is taking shape. Gerrit Cole is the Ace, followed by Corey Kluber and the newly acquired Taillon. Luis Severino is expected to join the team in July, after recovering from TSJ. That leaves Deivi Garcia, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, and Mike King. On paper, the potential is there, but that means squat. There are a lot of question marks and tons of uncertainty.
The work isn't done yet, but the picture is becoming much clearer. It looks like a reunion with Tanaka is unlikely, which is upsetting. Hopefully, he heads back to Japan rather than wearing another MLB uniform. There hasn't been any word on James Paxton, but that too doesn't seem likely. JA Happ signed with the Twins thankfully, so we won't have to watch him in pinstripes anymore. Reports state that Cashman wanted both Taillon and Joe Musgrove, but he was shipped off to the Padres (of course). The door may not be closed with Luis Castillo just yet, especially after this trade involving no MLB ready players nor top-10 prospects. Either way, the Yankees rotation is forming and pitchers and catchers report to training in 22 days!
Photo: Clutch Sports