Yesterday the Yankees finalized a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in which the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon for four minor leaguers. The first thing that came to my mind was the thought that Paul O’Neill now has to have a wrestling match with the pronunciation of Jameson’s last name, a contest he’ll likely lose. For crying out loud, the man can’t pronounce “Frazier” or “Smoltz”, he’s going to have some issues with “Taillon”. (For those of you keeping score at home, it’s “TIE-own”.)
Secondly, two of the four minor leaguers – Canaan Smith and Miguel Yajure – are not “throw ins”. Both players have potential and I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard their names again.
Thirdly, beyond the obvious issue of the Pittsburgh’s desire to be a minor league team, the reason Taillon was relatively easy to acquire is that he’s had two Tommy John surgeries. His addition to the Yankees starting rotation now means that the Yankees numbers two, three, and four starters have thrown a combined 44 innings in close to two years – due to arm surgeries in all three cases. Their number five starter hasn’t been on a big league mound in close to a year and a half.
Forgive me if I don’t place my order for championship parade confetti quite yet.
This is a good acquisition for New York. Taillon has a big upside and has shown resiliency before, having returned successfully not only from an elbow surgery, but also surgeries related to a sports hernia and testicular cancer.
He was drafted number two overall (between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado) and despite having been around the block, is only 29 years old. He was one of the better pitchers in the National League from 2016-18 placing 6th in FIP, 12th in K%-BB%, 14th in WAR and 15th in ERA+ over that stretch. If he remains healthy he’s going to be a good number two starter for the Yankees, which when added to Jordan Montgomery’s healthy return last season, and the return of Domingo German there’s certainly reason for optimism. If Corey Kluber and a summer return of Luis Severino can add anything, the Yankees staff will be a good one.
Good enough to win a World Series? That remains to be seen, because those are obviously a lot of “ifs”. It does however, make the Yankees the clear favorite in the American League East, which is something we couldn’t say last week.
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