MINNEAPOLIS — Whether James Paxton pitched well or poorly in his start Sunday, Brian Cashman’s sense of urgency in bolstering his starting rotation wouldn’t have changed.
The same goes for the impact of CC Sabathia’s performance here Monday, when the veteran, who posted a 3.24 ERA over his previous four starts, got tagged for four home runs in a 8-6 loss to the Twins.
As the Yankees general manager said during the London Series in late June — and stated before that series — his priority for the July 31 trade deadline would be what it almost always is.
“I’d love to add pitching if I can. Whether it’s the bullpen, rotation, just reinforce our pitching,” Cashman said.
Where Cashman turns, of course, is the question.
He’s been keeping in touch for weeks with any team that might have a starter or reliever available, but even in that there’s been some fluctuation. For example, the Yankees have scouted Madison Bumgarner plenty, as well as the Giants stable of relievers, but San Francisco stunningly has played its way back into NL wild-card contention and isn’t guaranteed to be sellers.
The Indians have a desired piece in Trevor Bauer, whom the Yankees have scouted of late as well, but Cleveland very much finds itself again in the hunt for the AL Central crown.
One GM who has tipped his hand to a degree is Arizona’s Mike Hazen, whose club has hovered around .500 all season and seems inclined to move a pitcher like Robbie Ray, whom the Yankees have had internal discussions about dating to the spring.
“The belief that a .500 team is going to win the World Series, get through the wild-card format that we have and win the World Series is I don’t think, objectively, that’s a position we should be staking ourselves to,” Hazen told reporters Monday, according to the Arizona Republic. “We need to win more games …When we’re facing the teams we’re in direct competition with, we’re kind of around .500. The last month, we beat the Phillies, we beat the Rockies once, we lost to the Dodgers, we lost to the Cardinals, we lost to the Brewers. It’s not a great recipe to — it’s a recipe that is forcing us to at least consider all options, put it that way.”
The Diamondbacks have been scouting the lower levels of the Yankees minor league system extensively for several weeks, as have other clubs such as the Giants, but the Yankees are far from the only team interested in Ray.
The same goes for the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, a target of more than a few pitching-needy teams, as well as the Reds’ Tanner Roark, the Tigers’ Matthew Boyd, the Rangers’ Mike Minor and on and on. ‘
“Through the roof,” is how one opposing team official characterized the asking prices at the moment for starters and relievers.
He added: “So many teams are looking for the same things and with a limited number [available].”
Which the increasingly vocal “go get an ace!” crowd doesn’t understand.
Or this: There are only so many true top-of-the-rotation pitchers in the entire sport and it’s not clear how many of them can actually be had. Most teams, once they find such pitchers, try to keep them.
And Yankees fans can forget the fantasy of Mets ownership, no matter the haul, allowing one of those type of pitchers to go to the Bronx. Noah Syndergaard to be shipped across town? The risk is too great of potentially providing the Yankees with the final piece of a World Series title.
Cashman, as has been the case over the years, assuredly will do something before next Wednesday’s deadline. The “who” very much remains up in the air.