A sign of the times: Yu Darvish trade a missed opportunity for Yankees

MLB: Wild Card-Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs
Oct 2, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning in game two of a Wild Card playoff baseball game at Wrigley Field.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

By Joe Pantorno

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees need starting-pitching help to support Gerrit Cole.

As it stands, the rotation behind the ace is nothing short of a mystery. James Paxton, JA Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka all could be leaving in free agency while Luis Severino’s effectiveness is unknown as he returns from Tommy John surgery in February.

That leaves the Yankees with Domingo German, returning from a suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt; not exactly a confidence-inspiring bunch.

It’s why the last few days have been so puzzling for the organization as a pair of marquee starting pitchers made their way via the trade market to the San Diego Padres.

On Sunday night, the Padres sent four prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for ace Blake Snell — a move that takes one of the best opposing pitchers out of the Yankees’ division.

Just one day later, they continued making big moves by acquiring Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Zach Davies and four more prospects.

None of the four prospects given up by the Padres was in the organization’s top-10, nor is Davies a front-line arm. That’s not a lot to give up for a pitcher who finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last season by going 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.961 WHIP, and 93 strikeouts in 76 innings. But that’s how salary dumps go.

This obviously begs the question of why the Yankees didn’t throw their hats into the Darvish ring considering he would have immediately provided a legitimate No. 2 arm behind Cole in the rotation.

If it comes down to the money, then this is truly as frugal as we’ve seen the Yankees in a long time.

Darvish is owed $59 million over the next three seasons, which is certainly no number to balk at. But for a Yankees team that remains so close to World Series contention, it’s a price that the Bronx Bombers of old would have jumped at.

Times are much different in 2020, though, as the Yankees are with a majority of MLB teams that experienced heavy financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the Yankees’ offseason remains unknown as it centers around the future of DJ LeMahieu. The AL batting champion and the team he spent the last two seasons with remain far apart in negotiations, which will likely dictate the future of Tanaka’s return to New York’s rotation.

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