Things move quickly in The Bronx. Twelve hours after the first report of the Yankees emerging as the favorites to land Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, the trade has officially been completed. New York has acquired the 29-year-old righty in exchange for a package four prospects, headlined by the team’s #15 prospect Miguel Yajure.
The former top prospect brings a degree of risk for the team. He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018, recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. In that year though, Taillon had the best year of his career, putting up a 3.20 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 3.58 xFIP, and 3.77 SIERA. In the three full seasons he’s played between 2016-18, he ranked 17th among qualified National League starters in ERA (3.63), 8th in FIP (3.53), 13th in xFIP (3.64), and 16th in SIERA (3.89).
The risk is high, but the reward outweighs it. Taillon’s fastball and sinker have both averaged slightly under 95 mph, along with a curveball and slider that have a ton of break, and a changeup he uses sporadically. Reports have also come out that Taillon has switched up some of his mechanics during his rehab, which has led to more break on his slider and, hopefully, an avoidance of future injuries.
Financially, Taillon is a perfect fit for the Yanks. Making just $2.5M this year, he fits perfectly with their goal of staying under the luxury tax, and is under control for each of the next two seasons. Taillon, who’s close friends with ace Gerrit Cole from their time in Pittsburgh, adds to the current format of the Yankee rotation of “high-ceiling, low-floor” starters. Next year, after Cole, the team is counting on two starters returning from Tommy John, another that has thrown 36 innings in the past two years, and a flurry of prospects/young pitchers. The tandem of Cole-Severino-Taillon-Kluber could prove to be dominant, or could spend its time on the IL.
Going back to Pittsburgh is a package of quantity over quality. Pitchers Miguel Yajure (NYY #15 prospect according to MLB.com), Roansy Contreras (#19), outfielder Canaan Smith (#21), and infielder Maikol Escotto are heading to the Bucs. Pirates fans may be a bit disappointed in the return, especially after moving Joe Musgrove, given the team had no urgent need to trade him. However, the return adds to a group of high-upside prospects Ben Cherington has acquired in his first year at the helm. The team is some years away, and they’ve joined the group of teams who seemingly want to bring their payroll into six digits.
The Yankees still need to clear up one more spot on their 40-man roster, plus rumors have tied them to multiple outfielders, so they’re assuredly not finished for the winter. However, with Kluber, Taillon, and LeMahieu so far, fans can’t be disappointed with the changes to the team that, on paper, is atop the American League.
Featured Photo: Izzy Rendell