Injuries, injuries, injuries – the big thing holding back the 2019 version of the New York Yankees. An aspect that not even money can avoid, this team’s Injury List resembles something of a shopping list with how many different line items are on it.
Striking their team hard to begin the year, 13 different Yankees are currently on the shelf with various injuries, from shoulder strains and knee inflammation to calf strains and labral tears. The biggest names afflicted with the injury bug are outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, as well as reliever Dellin Betances and starting pitcher James Paxton.
In order to rectify this onslaught of injuries and keep pace in the super competitive American League East, the Bronx Bombers need to bring in some additions to ease the pressure on what troops are left unharmed. Bringing up minor league prospects for immediate playing time is never going to be the cure for this long-standing pain, and the Yankees know that, but their hands seem to be a bit tied at the moment.
However, an easy fix to deal with this issue would be to bring in a starting pitcher with a pedigree unrivaled in the free agent market, Dallas Keuchel. The former Houston Astros, who mysteriously still is unsigned by any MLB franchise, would absolutely become the guy that this franchise needs to right the damaged ship and pick up any slack while everyone heals up.
Only being one-half game behind of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are not screaming for reinforcements, but they do need to do as much as they can now to keep pace with the pack, even with their injuries. The Boston Red Sox have struggled a bit out of the gates, putting them at three games behind New York, but that gap can close within an instant, and that is why Keuchel would be a great proactive move to keep the cards in their favor.
The issue with bringing in Keuchel now, as it will be until he and the other big-name free agent Craig Kimbrel is signed, is that it will take a good while to get him into playing shape. While the mileage on his arm will be lower with not having pitched spring training or any regular-season games so far, Keuchel will be putting more stress on his arm now by not having that warm-up period to get into game shape, ultimately putting him at a higher risk to get injured and throw the rest of his 2019 season away.
But this is a calculated risk for the Yankees, one that could pay huge dividends for a team and would resemble an early-season addition that mirrors a trade deadline acquisition without giving up any sort of compensation.
The current financial situation for New York is surprisingly good, which is quite a rare thing to say when it comes to money and the Pinstripes. Currently sitting at over $31 million in estimated tax space, there is plenty of room for this team to sign Keuchel to, lets say, a one year deal (which he has publicly been alright with signing now) for around $14 million with some sort of performance escalators that bounce that number up to $18 million.
While obviously not the type of financial guarantee Keuchel was searching for when the season ended and free agency began, but getting a decent chunk of cash almost two months into the season is quite solid for the left-hander. The Yankees would be able to throw that number onto their cap sheet, giving themselves no less than $13 million in spare change to work with in bringing over any other players before the trade deadline.
When the injury bug subsides and the starters get back to the active roster, the Yankees starting rotation at full strength would resemble something like this:
This would be an absolute embarrassment of riches for this team, as they would have to move Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Chance Adams to the bullpen or the minor league. Adams, Cessa and German could also become interesting trade bait for a position player as well, but their depth is an important facet for the oft-injured team.
While not in a bad place in the standings whatsoever, the Yankees are in a generous spot that they can absolutely take advantage of. By bringing in Keuchel to their already stacked team, they would be able to capitalize on a slow start, catch up and potentially pass the Rays in the divisional race and put some distance between them and their counterparts for the rest of the season.