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Yanks eye starters to help boost October run

Winning despite injuries, AL leaders hunt for rotation reinforcements
@feinsand
July 10, 2019

Injuries and their cost easily could have been the story of the Yankees’ first half. Instead, the running theme for 2019 has been New York’s ability to overcome a multitude of health issues and thrive in the face of adversity. Had someone told Aaron Boone that his club would not

Injuries and their cost easily could have been the story of the Yankees’ first half. Instead, the running theme for 2019 has been New York’s ability to overcome a multitude of health issues and thrive in the face of adversity.

Had someone told Aaron Boone that his club would not see a single pitch thrown by Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, that Miguel Andujar’s season would end after just 47 at-bats and Giancarlo Stanton would be limited to 31 at-bats prior to the All-Star break, the manager might have expected a rocky first half.

But the Yankees have received contributions from all corners of the roster; from Gio Urshela to Domingo German, Clint Frazier to Thairo Estrada. And the fill-ins have performed beyond expectations, helping the Yanks to the best record in the American League (57-31) and a 6 1/2-game lead over the Rays in the AL East. They also acquired Edwin Encarnacion to add some pop to a lineup that was hardly in need of it, easing the effect of the ongoing absence of Stanton and the more recent injury to first baseman Luke Voit.

“The guys that filled in for the injured guys did a great job,” said DJ LeMahieu, widely viewed as the team’s first-half MVP. “Now that we’re getting those guys back, it gives us a lot of confidence going forward. It’s going to be an exciting second half.”

With 2 1/2 months remaining in the regular season, the Yankees are positioned for another postseason run as they push to try to win their first World Series championship since 2009.

“I don’t feel like we’ve been in this good of a position with this good of a team for a long time,” said CC Sabathia, one of only two players left on the roster from that 2009 club (Brett Gardner is the other). “It’s up to us to finish it off.”

Current status: Buyer
General manager Brian Cashman has never been shy about making moves before the Trade Deadline, and the three weeks leading up to July 31 should be no different. With a stocked farm system at his disposal, Cashman has plenty of assets from which to deal, making the Yankees front-runners to acquire any players they see fit.

After reaching the AL Championship Series in 2017 and losing to the Red Sox in the AL Division Series last season, the Yankees are focused on a deeper run this October. It won’t be surprising to see Cashman do whatever it takes to help his team accomplish that goal.

What they are seeking
Severino has had a difficult rehab process as he attempts to come back from right shoulder issues and a Grade 2 lat strain, so while his return would be a boon to the Yankees’ rotation, it’s tough to project what they’ll get from their ace. The same goes for Betances (right lat strain), who has no clear timetable for a return.

The bullpen is well positioned to survive without Betances, but Cashman will likely look to add at least one starter, with the usual names -- Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, Zack Wheeler and Matthew Boyd -- rumored as potential targets. Should the Indians falter in the next two weeks and decide to become sellers, Trevor Bauer would be a name to watch, too.

What they have to offer
Frazier would appear to be the most logical trade chip, having shown this season that his bat is more than big league-ready. Frazier posted an .843 OPS with 11 homers in 53 games, and while his defense has been spotty at times, his impact on a lineup is obvious.

Despite having only two prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, the Yankees’ farm system is highly regarded around the game, with center fielder Estevan Florial (the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect) and right-handers Albert Abreu (No. 3) and Deivi Garcia (No. 4) leading the way.

Possible scenario
Bumgarner is widely considered the crown jewel of the trade market’s pitching crop, but the Yankees have had mixed feelings on whether he will be worth paying the steep price the Giants are likely to ask. Stroman, Boyd and Bauer offer team control beyond 2019, making them more appealing candidates. One way or another, the Yanks are likely to add a starter before July 31.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.