Yankees Named ‘Potential Fit’ for Projected $90 Million Ace Lefty

Yankees potential trade target Jesus Luzardo

Getty Yankees potential trade target Jesus Luzardo

It would be nice, would it not, for the Yankees to land an ace pitcher sooner rather than later? Certainly, some of the shine was taken off the team’s 5-0 start on Tuesday when they were drubbed, 7-0, by the Diamondbacks in Arizona, the second consecutive unconvincing outing from Opening Day starter Nestor Cortes. With Gerrit Cole out, Cortes is the closest thing the Yankees have to an ace.

He has not been up to the job through two starts. Cortes has allowed 13 hits, four walks and seven earned runs in 10.0 innings thus far. Small sample size, yes, but he was not great in last year’s injury-shortened season and was awful (23 hits, four walks, 12 earned runs in 14 innings) in Spring Training.

Which brings us to the always-pleasant land of speculative trades. And there is one out there that would go a long way toward fixing the Yankees’ short-term pitching issue by adding another ace-caliber arm to fill in for Cole and to be the No. 2 starter behind him. The target, as highlighted by Bleacher Report: Marlins No. 1 starter Jesus Luzardo.

Jesus Luzardo the No. 1 MLB Trade Chip, per B/R

B/R also has Luzardo ranked as the No. 1 “trade chip” in all of MLB this spring and summer. At 0-6 and falling fast, Miami could be looking to deal off its top parts for prospects within a few weeks.

Luzardo, who is 26 and will hit free agency in two years, is at the top of their list of assets, while B/R picked the Yankees as one of the top “potential fits” for Luzardo. Here’s what analyst Zachary D. Rymer wrote of Luzardo, who spent his first two-plus seasons in Oakland before he was dealt to Miami:

“Injuries in Oakland have caused the lefty to take a twisty-turny route to stardom, but that’s indeed the route he’s on. He struck out more batters in 2023 than the likes of Burnes, Kodai Senga and Aaron Nola, notably finishing strong with a 3.12 ERA over his last 18 outings.

“Luzardo’s stuff grades well relative to other left-handers, and he’s at a point in his career where there’s little reason to think that will change any time soon. And with free agency not due to call his name until after 2026, any team that trades for him would have a new ace for the foreseeable future.”

Yankees Ace of the Future?

The Yankees are in the enviable position of not necessarily needing a new ace this season, but they could use one for the next month as Cole recovers from his elbow injury.

That assumes a full recovery for Cole, though, which is not exactly set in stone. One of the hallmarks of his career has been his durability, and he has gone six straight full seasons with at least 30 starts. It’s a concern when a guy like that gets an elbow injury and lands on the 60-day DL at age 33.

Luzardo could be an ace-in-waiting, though. He was 10-10 in 32 starts last season, with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP, plus 208 strikeouts in 178.1 inning pitched. He was the Marlins’ Opening Day starter this year, and has labored through his first two starts in Miami, giving up only a 0.968 WHIP in those appearances, but yielding five runs in 10.1 innings.

Luzardo is still just 26. While the Yankees could land him without having to pay him right away, he could be an early extension candidate—The Athletic projects him to land a six-year, $90 million dela if he does get an early new contract.

All they need to do is pull off a trade for him first.

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