Wednesday was already poised to be a testy one for the New York Yankees.
With each passing moment before the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline, chances of general manager Brian Cashman picking up a difference-making starting pitcher decreases.
The starting rotation has long been the Achilles Heel of the powerhouse Yankees this year, yet they continue to come up empty ahead of the stretch run.
They lost out to the Mets for Marcus Stroman and the Cincinnati Reds for Trevor Bauer — both doable deals for the Yankees considering their depth of talent. Yet Cashman and Co. have stood pat for the time being, almost inexplicably given the struggles of the rotation recently.
However, a comfortable lead atop the AL East might mute some desperation for management despite the looming worries of a second-straight October dud. Those worries are plenty prevalent amongst the Yankees fan base.
Recent reports from multiple outlets have suggested that the Yankees might look elsewhere to bolster the roster for the final two months of the season, including another bullpen arm to take further pressure off the rotation.
On Wednesday morning, however, the Yankees received some injury news that might have them scrambling during the final hours of the trade deadline.
First baseman Luke Voit left Tuesday night’s loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a core muscle injury. It was revealed hours later that it is a sports hernia, forcing the slugger to the 10-day IL.
While manager Aaron Boone hasn’t presented a gameplan for Voit, a ports hernia usually requires surgery, which could hold him out for at least six weeks. That brings the Yankees into September without a big bat that has hit 19 home runs in 94 games.
His absence would force Edwin Encarnacion to take over at first base, though the usual DH has only played eight of his first 33 games as a Yankee at the position.
It could force Cashman to go out on the market and find another first baseman — albeit a rental — to ensure Encarnacion remains as the DH. One of his former teams, the Toronto Blue Jays, could provide a perfect fit.
Justin Smoak is in the final year of his contract and has been dangled on the trade market by the Blue Jays. The 32-year-old has struggled with a .215 average this season, but his 18 home runs provide the promise of power while Voit is gone.
While in those talks, Cashman could also inquire about closer Ken Giles to further improve an already-impressive Yankees bullpen that ranks sixth in the majors in ERA. On a bad Toronto team, Giles has 14 saves with a sterling 1.54 ERA. However, he has been sidelined for the past three games because of elbow inflammation, which could slow down any potential talks.
Still, the Yankees need to make one or two more moves to maintain their status as a serious World Series contender. If it doesn’t come in the starting rotation, then this would be a good start.