The New York Yankees need pitching help in the worst way. C.C. Sabathia is out for an extended period with a knee issue and there are no guarantees he can stay healthy. Ivan Nova is done for the year with Tommy John surgery. Michael Pineda is out until June at the earliest. Hiroki Kuroda is struggling. The only consistent starter this season has been Masahiro Tanaka. David Phelps has been solid and, at times, spectacular.
There are already rumors floating around that the Yankees will be on the prowl to acquire pitching, perhaps before the July 31st trade deadline and there are a few teams that could find themselves early sellers. Among those early sellers should be the Chicago Cubs who have two intriguing arms the Yankees could look to acquire in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Samardzija is the sexy name this season as he carries a 1.46 ERA over 68 innings this season despite posting the lowest K/9 ratio since being named a full-time starter in 2012. The Cubs will try and get as much as possible for their ace who is still under team control through next season. That means the Yankees might not have the prospects necessary to land Samardzija. Even if they did have the prospects, do the Yankees want to move a Gary Sanchez and Dellin Betances among others?
Hammel, however, might make the most sense for the Yankees. Hammel is off to a great start with the Cubs posting a 2.91 ERA, 7.5 K/9 ratio which is slightly above his career norm across 58.2 innings. Hammel spent the two previous seasons with the Baltimore Orioles where he went 15-14 with a 4.27 ERA and 7.3 K/9. His track record wouldn’t warrant the wealth of prospects that Samardzija would.
The Yankees don’t need to go nuts in acquiring pitchers. Phelps has been solid. Pineda was fantastic before his injury. Kuroda has to get the benefit of the doubt that he will bounce back. Even Chase Whitley has been a revelation through two short starts. The Yankees do need pitching. In fact, they need an arm badly at this point. That doesn’t mean, however, they need to go out and get the sexiest name on the market. Would Samardzija be a nice fit in Pinstripes? Absolutely. Could Hammel be just as solid? Yes. The Yankees don’t need a sports car. They need a pitcher who will go out and give them a chance to win every five days who won’t cost an arm a leg and Hammel fits that bill perfectly. They also need to develop the prospects in their system.
The Yankees’ farm system is not in the position to vomit their top prospects. Given the way baseball is heading with teams locking up their own free agents, the Yankees need to hold onto their own prospects and start developing their own talent. Hammel makes the most sense for the Yankees at this juncture.