The Yankees, desperate to upgrade their rotation with starters who can at the very least eat innings, took a step toward that end Sunday morning, completing a trade with the Diamondbacks that brought them Brandon McCarthy.
The Yankees sent lefthander Vidal Nuno, who mostly struggled after being inserted into the rotation after the injury to Michael Pineda, to the Diamondbacks. Nuno, 26, was 3-7 with a 4.78 ERA in 22 games over two seasons with the Yankees, including 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA this season as a starter.
McCarthy is 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 109 2/3 innings this season for Arizona, innings that would rank him second on the Yankees’ staff behind only Masahiro Tanaka’s 122 2/3.
"McCarthy is an experienced starter that we expect to pitch well for us and give us distance," manager Joe Girardi said before Sunday’s game against the Twins. "I know he's had his struggles but he's seemed to turn it around. He's got a good arm and we need him to help us."
The Yankees also received cash considerations in the trade.
McCarthy, who turns 31 Monday, is 45-60 with a 4.21 in his career, including 8-21 with a 4.75 ERA the last two seasons with Arizona. But before that, the righthander looked like he was emerging as one of the game’s more consistent arms, going 17-15 with a 3.29 ERA in 2011-12 with the A’s.
After starting this season 1-10 with a 5.38 ERA, McCarthy is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA his last two starts.
“He still has good stuff but it's not playing,” one opposing team National League scout said Sunday. “But between him and Nuno, it's not even close. McCarthy is a legitimate starter. This is a no-lose for the Yankes."
Nuno had allowed 13 homers as a starter, struggling in particular at the Stadium where he allowed 13 of his combined 15 homers this season.
“McCarthy’s mostly a ground ball pitcher,” another talent evaluator said. “That automatically makes him a better fit for that park [Yankee Stadium] than Nuno.”
Nuno said he was looking forward to a “fresh start” in Arizona, where he will be reunited with pitching coach Mike Harkey, Girardi’s bullpen coach through 2013. Nuno said he’s been told he will start Tuesday.
As for McCarthy, Girardi said he wasn’t yet sure when his Yankees’ debut will be.
“He will not start tomorrow [in Cleveland],” Girardi said. “We’ll fit him in the rotation somewhere.”
McCarthy’s uninspiring numbers aside, his new manager is confident the pitcher will turn it around.
“He’s got too good stuff not to,” Girardi said.
Girardi also announced slumping veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who was hitting .221 with six homers and 23 RBIs, had been designated for assignment.
Righthander Bruce Billings was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to provide depth for what Girardi called a "taxed" bullpen.
“It’s been kind of a tough day,” Girardi said. “[Releasing Soriano] is extremely difficult because he’s been a great Yankee and a great player, but we felt we needed more pitching today. If something happened to [Hiroki] Kuroda early today we’d be in a pickle today so we called up Billings. Our bullpen has been extremely taxed. For Sori, it’s a guy that came in and did a tremendous job for us last year.
He’s had his struggles this year and he’s a guy that’s used to playing every day and there wasn’t every day at-bats for him so maybe it was harder for him to get going.”