Marcus Stroman
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Report: Yankees have expressed interest in Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have reached out to the Blue Jays about a potential trade for right-hander Marcus Stroman. They’ve also scouted Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner, though there don’t appear to be ongoing discussions between the two sides just yet.

While no deal seems imminent on either front, the Yankees could certainly use the extra rotation help, and Davidoff adds that they intend to do so in advance of next month’s trade deadline. The club is currently working with a rotation that ranks 13th-best in the league (per FanGraphs), hampered in part by injuries to Luis Severino (rotator cuff inflammation), Domingo Germán (left hip flexor strain), Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder strain) and Jordan Montgomery (Tommy John surgery). A starter of Stroman or Bumgarner’s caliber would undeniably give them the boost they need to improve that ranking and stabilize the rotation as they move toward the postseason.

As MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand pointed out on Saturday, however, the Yankees still have reason to hesitate before making any sizable upgrades to their pitching staff, especially with Severino nearing the end of his recovery from right shoulder inflammation. Per Feinsand, the club may wait to see how Severino’s recovery process plays out before jumping into the fray for Stroman or Bumgarner, both of whom are expected to command sizable returns on the trade market. Complicating matters is the issue of Severino’s return date, which will be ‘sometime in July’ and could put more pressure on the team to make a quick decision before the deadline.

Stroman, 28, has been a fairly stable presence in the Blue Jays’ rotation for the last six seasons. Despite some hiccups — including a disastrous six-run, four-strikeout performance against the Diamondbacks on Friday — he’s already started to improve on his 2018 totals, turning in a 3-8 record in 14 starts with a 3.31 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, and 6.9 SO/9 through 81 2/3 innings. He’ll remain under team control through the 2020 season, too, giving the Yankees another viable long-term starting option next to Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and the soon-to-be-retired CC Sabathia.

Bumgarner, on the other hand, no longer looks like the stalwart ace that once led the Giants to multiple World Series titles. His last several campaigns in the majors have been overshadowed by injuries, including a shoulder sprain and fractured finger, and he’s pitched to a mediocre 3-5 record in 13 starts with a 4.05 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, and 8.9 SO/9 across 80 innings this year. Should the 29-year-old lefty strike a deal with the Yankees (whom, it should be said, are one of eight teams on his no-trade list), it would be on a much less permanent basis, as he’s slated to enter free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Aaron Hicks would like to avoid Tommy John surgery

Aaron Hicks
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The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.

One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.

Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.

Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.