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Rotation arms still atop Yankees' Deadline list

@BryanHoch
July 24, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no panic button on Brian Cashman's desk, but even if one were installed, the trusted network of advisers, analysts and scouts that the Yankees general manager regularly leans upon would shield him from pushing it. That is especially important with one week remaining before the Trade

MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no panic button on Brian Cashman's desk, but even if one were installed, the trusted network of advisers, analysts and scouts that the Yankees general manager regularly leans upon would shield him from pushing it.

That is especially important with one week remaining before the Trade Deadline, as the Yankees continue to express interest in the pitching market. The general expectation throughout the industry is that the Yankees will acquire at least one starting pitcher, but other than a trade for slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Cashman has nothing to show for those efforts so far.

"The target would be to continue to reinforce the rotation, because obviously that's where the majority of your innings are going to have to come from," Cashman said recently. "We've got a long way to go and those innings are vitally important, so we're going to target starting pitching. And then if not, we'll continue to reinforce the bullpen."

Over the past several weeks, New York has been connected to almost every available starter in some form or fashion. The Yankees would love for the Indians to dangle Trevor Bauer, but Cleveland is back in the postseason picture. Same for the Giants, and though Yankees people are said to be less enthused with Madison Bumgarner, the Yankees would consider any deal that allows them to hold onto 20-year-old pitching prospect Deivi Garcia.

The Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman has been a popular target -- and the Medford, N.Y., product has made little secret of his desire to pitch for a large-market contender, saying, "I love bright lights." Yankees special assistant Jim Hendry recently scouted Stroman, who checks a lot of boxes considering his experience in the American League East and his high ground-ball percentage.

Since Stroman is under control through 2020, Toronto has been emboldened to shoot high -- Cashman has said teams have asked about infielder Gleyber Torres, which is a non-starter from the Yankees' perspective. Several clubs have expressed interest in outfielder Clint Frazier, who homered twice in a four-hit performance on Tuesday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Bombers have scouted the Tigers' Matthew Boyd, for whom the asking price is said to be high. New York has also dispatched personnel to check on the D-backs' Robbie Ray, who could be on the move after Arizona general manager Mike Hazen recently said that his club should be open to unloading players considering their near-.500 record.

In addition, Yankees vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring has been on site to watch the Rangers' Mike Minor, whose contract includes a partial no-trade clause that lists the Yankees. Minor is under contract through 2020 at a relatively affordable $9.5 million per season.

Though the Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler to dangle, the crosstown rivalry complicates matters. It is believed that the Mets have no interest in helping the Yankees, no matter the return; in 2017, the Yankees believed they were close to acquiring Jay Bruce and Neil Walker, but those deals were squashed by ownership.

The Yankees entered play on Wednesday with 24 wins in 32 games since June 15, the best record in the Majors over that span, though their starting pitching concerns remain.

With James Paxton, CC Sabathia and Domingo Germán all getting hit hard this turn, it marked the first time that Yankees starters have allowed at least seven runs in three straight games since Terry Mulholland, Jim Abbott and Melido Perez did it July 10-15, 1994.

"They’ve taken advantage of some mistakes," manager Aaron Boone said. "They’ve made it very difficult on our starters. I think they had a really good game plan going in against our guys. Just not the execution you need to really shut down a really good offense. Nothing more than that."

In the afterglow
The epic 14-12, 10-inning victory over the Twins remained a topic of discussion on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Aaron Hicks' catch robbed Max Kepler in the left-center-field gap.

"The coaches and I just sat around after that game in our uniforms, staring at each other and talking through it," Boone said. "So many amazing, individual efforts. In a lot of ways, so far the story of our season is that so many people have played such a significant role in allowing to comeback in that game and ultimately win it. It's one of those I feel like we'll be talking about and referencing back to for a long time."

Making progress
Brett Gardner was out of the lineup Wednesday for a fourth consecutive game due to a sore left knee, though the outfielder was able to perform on-field agility drills as well as hit in the cage and work in the weight room.

"It's better today," Gardner said. "Not perfect, but definitely better today than it was yesterday when I went out and ran around some. I'm encouraged. I'm frustrated that it has taken this long, but I'm hoping to be back in there [Thursday against the Red Sox]."

Boone was on the field when Gardner ran on Wednesday afternoon, and the two had a spirited conversation as they walked toward the visitors dugout.

"I was actually encouraged by it. I thought he did look better," Boone said. "I think it's better to still hold off. He'd kind of be an emergency option, or if we really needed something, we'd go to him. But I also think it's best to see if we can try to get through another day without running him out there. We'll just kind of re-evaluate where we are [Thursday]."

This date in Yankees history
July 24, 1983: The Yankees and Royals played the infamous "Pine Tar Game" at Yankee Stadium, as a George Brett homer was invalidated when manager Billy Martin complained about excessive pine tar on Brett's bat. The Yankees' 4-3 victory was only temporary, as the game ended in protest and was completed on Aug. 18 with a 5-4 Kansas City win.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.