Trade Could Send Jesús Luzardo to Yankees Before Opening Day

Getty Jesús Luzardo

Trade Could Send Jesús Luzardo to Yankees Before Opening Day -

After a prolonged stint on the free agency market, pitcher Blake Snell signed a two-year, $62 million deal with the San Francisco Giants on March 19, leaving the New York Yankees without an answer to their starting rotation concerns. According to the NY Post’s Jon Heyman, the team have now shifted their focus to the Miami Marlins‘ Jesús Luzardo, who may be one of their last options at this extremely late stage in the offseason.

Still, the Marlins don’t yet appear ready to come to the table, or at least not for what the Yankees have been offering in return.

“The Yankees haven’t been able to get any traction in trade talks for Marlins star Jesús Luzardo or others, and the starters who remain on the market are more depth pieces, led by 2023 All-Star Michael Lorenzen and Mike Clevinger,” Heyman reported on March 18.

While there’s no indication of which players the Yankees would include in a trade package for Luzardo, it’s clear the Marlins have no interest in giving him up without a strong return. On February 15, Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald reported that the Baltimore Orioles had discussed a potential trade for the left-hander, but negotiations stalled when the Marlins wanted catching prospect Samuel Basallo in return and “Baltimore wasn’t willing to include him in any deal.”

In 2023, Luzardo posted a 3.58 ERA with a 208-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and the season prior, he recorded a 3.32 ERA with a 120-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite the Marlins not yet finding an offer that suits them, trading Luzardo before the 2024 season makes a lot of sense for the team, as the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal explained on December 15, 2023.

“Luzardo is projected to earn $5.9 million in the second of his four years of arbitration,” Rosenthal explained. “Trading him might be the best way for the Marlins to address offensive needs while guarding against Luzardo’s value diminishing as he gets more expensive.”

With the Yankees desperate to solidify their starting rotation before 2024 and the Marlins looking to set themselves up for success in future seasons, perhaps an eleventh-hour deal is exactly what both teams need.

Yankees’ Starting Rotation Needs Bolstering After Gerrit Cole’s Injury

Earlier in spring training, the Yankees took a serious hit when ace Gerrit Cole was deactivated from all baseball activities due to discomfort in his right elbow. After extensive testing, Cole was diagnosed with nerve inflammation and edema, landing him on the injured list to start the 2024 season. On March 13, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Cole is expected to miss at least one to two months with an expected return date in late May or early June.

“First, they had four Yankee doctors look at it – they found no tear and they felt that he could probably try to do rest and rehab.”

@JonHeyman joins #MLBTonight to give insight on the timeline and details of Gerrit Cole’s elbow injury.

On March 15, Yankees manager Aaron Boone confirmed to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner that Nestor Cortes will be the team’s Opening Day starter in Cole’s absence, and on March 24, Boone told NY Post’s Greg Joyce that right-hander Luis Gil will fill the fifth slot in the team’s starting rotation. As such, the Yankees’ rotation going into 2024 looks as follows:

  • Nestor Cortes (LHP)
  • Carlos Rodón (LHP)
  • Marcus Stroman (RHP)
  • Clarke Schmidt (RHP)
  • Luis Gil (RHP)

Cortes is coming off a disappointing 2023 season where he posted a 4.97 ERA in just 12 starts after rotator cuff issues limited his time on the mound. Similarly, Rodón is looking for a comeback year after battling injuries in 2023 and finishing the season with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts. While it’s possible both pitchers will bounce back to their All-Star form this season, its understandable that the Yankees are looking to bolster their rotation after losing Cole for at least the first few months.

Yankees’ Have Pursued Multiple Starters This Offseason

This winter, the Yankees haven’t had much luck in the market for top pitchers.

Before signing Marcus Stroman to a two year, $37 million deal on January 11, the Yankees offered Snell a five-year, $150 million contract, but Snell “rejected because he wanted more money or one more year,” per MLB Insider Mike Rodriguez. This came after New York failed to land free agent superstar Shohei Ohtani and Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto at the start of the offseason, both of whom signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Yankees also made an offer to the Chicago White Sox for Dylan Cease before he was traded to the San Diego Padres, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and according to Heyman, the team “conducted renewed talks” with Snell’s agent Scott Boras before the ace signed with the Giants on March 19, but “they never got close to a deal.”

On March 24, MLB Analyst Jim Bowden reported that the Yankees were “still involved” in discussions with free agent pitcher Jordan Montgomery, who has been linked to the team at various points in the offseason. Montgomery is looking for a long-term deal, with executives and agents who spoke to the NY Post’s Joel Sherman reported on January 4 that the starter was “aiming to top the $172 million that Aaron Nola received from the Phillies.”

With the regular season starting in mere days, Montgomery is likely to be open to a short-term deal similar to the one Snell signed, but trading for a starter still makes more sense for the New York than signing a free agent. MLB’s highest luxury tax threshold for 2024 is set at $297 million, and the Yankees are already estimated to be in excess of that, according to Cot’s Contracts. This means that every dollar spent over that threshold will be taxed at 110%.

The news that Cole’s injury won’t require Tommy John surgery is extremely positive, but there’s still no set date for the ace’s return to the mound, and the Yankees are fired up for a comeback year in 2024. Meeting the Marlins’ demands for Luzardo may be their only hope.

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