The three most prominent and consistent names on the pitching trading block over the past few weeks have been David Price (3 WAR to date), Jeff Samardzija (2.1 WAR), and Jason Hammel (2 WAR). Now that the best team in baseball (team payroll= ~$75 mil) has taken the latter two off the market, Price is left as far and away the most intriguing player we know to be available.

Brian Cashman had already made it known he was looking to acquire an impact arm. Now with CC Sabathia likely out for the rest of the year, he is surely feeling increased pressure to acquire a top starter who can help close the seemingly manageable three-game gap between the Yankees and first place.

Price is a very appealing target. He ranks as a top 10 AL pitcher in FIP and WAR, and a top 3 pitcher in K/9, BB/9, and xFIP. He’s averaged 207 innings over the last 4 seasons. He would replace Vidal Nuno in the rotation, so the Yankees would get nearly his full value above replacement level. And should the Yankees sneak into the playoffs, a Tanaka-Price duo would give the Yankees the most formidable 1-2 punch of any team save for the Dodgers.

All that said, Cashman should not take the bait. There’s a question of whether if this trade is even a possibility in the first place. Price will command a huge return, and the Rays are sure to ask for the moon from a division rival. The Yankees farm system might well keep them out of the running. Even if the Yankees could put together a competitive package, they should hold onto their prospects and just let the clock run
out on this season.

As good as Price is, he is not going to make the Yankees a legit contender. While three games isn’t a ton to make up, the Yankees are long shots to beat out both the Orioles and Blue Jays for the division and even less likely to get a wild card. Their mediocre 43-42 record hides a putrid 39-46 Pythagorean record. Only 3 teams in the AL have a worse run differential.

Consider this: The Yankees expected win percentage so far this year is .460. The Blues Jays expected win percentage is the same as their actual win percentage .534. If the Blue Jays only played .500 ball the
rest of the way, the Yankees would have to somehow be a .540 team for the remainder of the season. That’s not impossible, but it’s a long shot even with Price in the fold. And it doesn’t account for the Orioles keeping pace.

The Yankees have proven over the last two seasons, the folly of depending on the free agent market in lieu of developing prospects in this era of baseball. David Price is an excellent pitcher, and he might be worth the prospect haul to another team that just needs a 2 or so win push to make the playoffs. The Yankees are not
that team.