What I’m thinking about this morning as I write my daily article is RHP Mike Clevinger. The 29 year old Clevinger has been on the trading block, along with the Cleveland Indians’ other players, since the Indians decided to offload their star talent while their value was high and their contracts favorable.
The Yankees injury woes in the starting rotation are glaring in 2020 with Luis Severino having Tommy John surgery and James Paxton recovering from offseason surgery to remove a cyst from a disc on his spine.
The Yankees have some in-house solutions to the problem of filling out the starting rotation. They have proven starters in Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa and a group of young talented pitchers in right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and Deivi Garcia – any one of whom could probably win a spot on the roster.
None of these young pitchers is a replacement, at least in the current circumstances, for Severino or Paxton. Fortunately, the Yankees have gotten Jordan Montgomery back from his Tommy John surgery and he profiles to play a significant role in the starting rotation. The Yankees are eager to see Montgomery perform as he did in 2017 when he finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
All this leads me to the trade deadline, by which time Paxton will have returned to the rotation and the Yankees will know what they’ve got in a fifth starter. With the Yankees projected to compete for the division title and beyond, they’ll assess whether the rotation can run the gamut.
If the Yankees can make a trade at the deadline to bring in a proven performer like Clevinger, it could be the piece that propels them to a championship. On the Yankees side, Clevinger still has three years of control left and, although he is injured at present, he is already throwing and will be ready just after the season opens.
What would it take to make a trade for Clevinger happen? It would probably take Miguel Andujar, who’s outfield play would be attractive to the Indians, and a major-league ready pitcher. Andujar is not a name I throw around lightly; he’s the player I have most enjoyed watching play and develop over the past few years, but he’s also on the verge of a break-out career, though, at present, a man without a position for the Yankees.
Clevinger’s numbers are the stuff dreams are made of: in 2019 he was 13-4 in 21 games started with a 2.71 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 2.49 FIP, 12.71 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and .7 HR/9. He hasn’t won any awards yet, but look out, Clevinger’s on the brink of having a Hall of Fame type career.
The Yankees will have a decision to make at the trade deadline, whether to risk winning in the postseason with the talent they currently have or to make a blockbuster trade to increase their chances of winning a World Series in 2020. Is 2020 the year the Yankees front office believes it can win it all?