BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. — As Joe Torre has watched the Yankees surprise many around baseball this season, he has marveled at the club’s young talent.
Some of the players such as Clint Frazier have been acquired by dealing veterans. Others such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino have remained with the team, despite drawing significant trade interest in recent years.
“You have to really go back to giving Brian Cashman a great deal of credit for this,” Torre said, “because I’m not sure if George [Steinbrenner] was still with us that he would have let the Yankees do some wholesale selling of some of their veterans a couple of years ago, but it certainly is paying off.”
As Torre spoke with media Thursday morning before his Safe at Home Foundation’s charity golf event, the Yankees (53-46) sat one game behind first-place Boston (56-47) in the American League East. They also occupied the league’s top wild-card spot.
After rolling through Cincinnati’s lineup on Wednesday afternoon, Severino was on Torre and several former Yankees’ minds Thursday. The 23-year-old righthander, who has emerged as the staff’s ace, struck out nine and did not allow an earned run in seven innings of the Yankees’ 9-5 win.
Severino is 7-4 with a 3.03 ERA, 145 strikeouts and 32 walks in 127 2⁄3 innings a year after the Yankees moved him to the bullpen because of his struggles as a starter.
“He’s pitching this year,” David Cone said. “We always knew he had a powerful arm. We always knew he had one of the best fastballs around but I think he’s showing all three pitches now. He’s become much more unpredictable. Yesterday’s game was one of his best he’s pitched as a Yankee.”
But after him, the rotation has been filled with question marks. CC Sabathia has had a solid season, but can he sustain his 3.44 ERA over the season’s final months? Rookie Jordan Montgomery seemed to rebound from a tough stretch with a strong outing Tuesday night against Cincinnati, but were his previous four starts (0-1, 6.41 ERA) a harbinger of things to come? And how much can the Yankees rely on Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)?
With Michael Pineda missing the rest of the season because of Tommy John surgery, the Yankees are in the market for another starter. They have been linked to Athletics righthander Sonny Gray in recent weeks.
Outfielder Estevan Florial, ranked fourth on Baseball America’s midseason list of the Yankees’ top prospects and 71st overall, has been rumored as a piece of Oakland’s interest.
The Yankees also had five other players — Gleyber Torres (No. 3), Frazier (No. 49), Chance Adams (No. 56), Justus Sheffield (No. 73) and Dustin Fowler (No. 89) — on Baseball America’s overall top 100.
“There’s always a balance between the price tag and the matchup on who you’re trying to bring in,” Cone said. “If that balance works out, I think it would be a great move for the Yankees.”