By Sweeny Murti
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (WFAN) — The Yankees gained even more payroll flexibility when the shipped Chase Headley to San Diego Tuesday along with righty Bryan Mitchell.
The player they got back from the Padres, 28-year-old corner outfielder Jabari Blash, is a 6-foot-5 slugger who scouts say has big power, but certainly can swing and miss, too. Sound familiar? Blash is likely Triple-A injury insurance for an Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton disabled list stint.
What the Yankees really gained was dumping Headley’s $13 million salary, another big step towards staying under the $197 million tax threshold and buying some more room to add payroll to improve their starting pitching.
Given their budget circumstances (“concerns” would seem to be an inappropriate word when describing the Yankees’ financial position, right?), going after Yu Darvish or Jake Arrietta is highly unlikely. Could someone like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn be more in their sights?
Of course, there is CC Sabathia, who is a great fit for the Yankees for many reasons. He should still be able to provide 135-150 quality innings at age 37. Throw in his history with Aaron Boone (teammates and friend in Cleveland), his relationships with young starters Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, and his hunger to win another championship, and it makes too much sense not to re-sign him and dollars shouldn’t be a huge obstacle.
The trade route brings numerous possibilities, with names like Chris Archer, Gerritt Cole and Michael Fulmer mentioned at various times. The Yankees have serious interest in Fulmer, the Tigers right-hander who was AL Rookie of The Year in 2016 and comes with five seasons of team control. That would mean a hefty prospect return, and Detroit would likely seek a three- or four-player package headlined by Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.
Top prospects Gleyber Torres and Estevan Florial are likely untouchable. Cashman refused to put that label on any particular player Monday, but made clear he considers some prospects more tradeable than others. So that probably leaves Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, and others as potential pieces to move.
I still wonder where the Yankees could move Jacoby Ellsbury, and Detroit is one of the teams I considered a potential trading partner. Expanding the deal to include Ellsbury — like they just did with Headley when San Diego wanted Mitchell — is still a longshot, especially with his no-trade clause to get past. But I would think it’s worth exploring depending on the prospect package needed to pull off a deal for Fulmer, who many here believe is ready to become one of the best top-of-the-rotation starters in the game.
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