By Joe Pantorno
The Yankees aren’t the big, bad free-agent spenders that they used to be, but they’re still working on ways to find the final pieces of what they’ll hope to be a championship puzzle.
New York has acquired starting pitcher Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates for four prospects — Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Maikol Escotto, and Canaan Smith — according to multiple reports.
Yajure is a right-handed pitcher who was the 15th-ranked prospect in the Yankees’ farm system by MLB.com. Contreras, also a righty pitcher, was ranked 19th while Smith, an outfielder, was ranked 21st. Escotto is a shortstop that was outside the organization’s top-30 prospects.
The 29-year-old right-hander missed the entire 2020 season after undergoing a second Tommy John surgery, so how he’ll rebound is a sizable wild card at this point. But he showed plenty of promise in his last full season in 2018, going 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 191.0 innings of work.
Taillon — who also underwent surgery for testicular cancer in 2017 — was teammates with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who reportedly put in “strong reviews” with management, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. Both pitchers remained close after Cole went to Houston before joining the Yankees for the 2020 season on a record-breaking contract.
But Taillon provides another questionable arm — albeit with plenty of upside — for the Yankees considering his two Tommy John surgeries. Behind Cole, the Yankees currently don’t have much to write home about as they stand to let both James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka walk in free agency.
They brought on Corey Kluber, who has pitched just eight innings over the last two years, earlier this month to join a questionable rotation that currently features Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, Domingo German, and Luis Severino, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, too.
By their actions on the market, it looks like the Yankees are content with piecing together a rag-tag rotation that can stay afloat long enough for the offense to carry them deep into the postseason.
Taillon is slated to make just $2.25 million in 2021 and is under team control for the next two seasons.