The New York Yankees had the honor of facing David Price the first time he dressed up in his Detroit Tigers uniform and took the mound. Price, swapped to the Tigers at last week's trade deadline in a three-team deal, looked good on Tuesday night — striking out 10 Yankee hitters, but leaving with a no-decision in what eventually became a 12-inning Tigers win.
Even though the Yankees are a team that needs starting pitching, they weren't in on the Price sweepstakes. Nor were they contenders to land Jon Lester or John Lackey from the Boston Red Sox. And it's not because Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn't try.
Rather, it's because, according to Newsday's David Lennon, both the Red Sox and Rays GMs had their marching orders: They were free to trade their aces, just not to the Yankees.
From Lennon's latest column:
Not only did Cashman call his Rays counterpart, Andrew Friedman, about trading for Price, he also dialed up the Red Sox's Ben Cherington to discuss Jon Lester and John Lackey. Those conversations didn't get very far.
Both GMs told Cashman they had been given approval by ownership to trade their elite pitchers anywhere in the majors -- except to the Yankees.
Cashman expected as much from the Red Sox. Who do you think came up with the term "Evil Empire" anyway? He held out a sliver of hope on Price, but Friedman soon gave him the thumbs-down. So the Yankees, the contender that most wanted an ace-type starter, got shut out while the two teams that least needed one — the Tigers and A's — wound up with Price and Lester, respectively.
It's not altogether surprising to learn that neither team wanted to trade with the Yankees, but they didn't quite need to be blacklisted. The Yankees simply didn't have the type of players needed to land Lester or Price. Nobody wants a broke-down Ichiro or Francisco Cervelli in a deal for an ace.
The Rays were looking for good younger players and, well, that's not really the Yankees of today. The A's parted with Yoenis Cespedes in order to get Lester, so who were the Yankees going to give Boston? Brett Gardner?
In MLB, most teams don't trade within their own division, especially when star players are in the deal. But notice the command wasn't "Don't trade within the AL East." The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, two other AL East teams very much in the market for starting pitching at the trade deadline, weren't excluded. Just the Yankees.
Partially, that's because of reputation. In a good way. The Yankees are always one expensive offseason away from being in the World Series, it seems. So why help them reload? In this specific case, the free-spending Yankees could have potentially wooed Price or Lester with a long-term deal to keep them playing in the same division as their old teams for years to come. There's a reason the Yankees and the Red Sox had a 17-year trading drought until pulling off that Stephen Drew deal.
The rationale makes perfect sense, but it's still interesting because it's not every day we hear explicitly about the Yankees being blacklisted from acquiring another big star.
It sure is tough to be the Yankees.
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