By George A. King III
The Yankees brought back Adam Warren through the trade market this past summer and are ready for a second helping of Aroldis Chapman’s 105-mph fastball via a five-year, $86 million free-agent contract.
Now with Dellin Betances scheduled for the eighth inning and Chapman the ninth, the Yankees are searching for bullpen help as well as a starter, an area where the trade prices are astronomical.
So, what about Justin Wilson returning to the Bronx?
The Tigers want to avoid going over the $195 million luxury-tax threshold for the 2017 season and have $179.2 million tied up in 11 players with guaranteed contracts and six players facing arbitration who might cost $12 million. Add in the salaries for players not eligible for arbitration, and the Tigers would likely exceed the $195 million mark.
Moving Wilson, who made $1.525 million last year and could land a $2.5 million deal for the upcoming season, would help shave the payroll. However, just as the market for starters is high, so too is the relief aisle.
Like other teams, the Yankees have talked to the Tigers about Wilson and found the asking price to be too expensive for the 29-year-old lefty, whom they dealt to Detroit during the 2016 winter meetings for right-handers Chad Green and Luis Cessa.
At the time of the deal, it was judged as a big plus for the Tigers, since Wilson’s one and only season in the Bronx was solid while Green and Cessa’s minor league numbers weren’t good. Green and Cessa made it to the big leagues this past season and are in the mix for spots on next year’s staff in the bullpen or the rotation. Wilson appeared in 66 games for the Tigers, going 4-5 with a 4.14 ERA. He fanned 65 batters in 58 ²/₃ innings and allowed 61 hits.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Tigers are looking for controllable major league arms for Wilson.
Wilson would provide manager Joe Girardi with another power arm to go with Betances and Chapman. Currently the Yankees’ lefty relievers other than Chapman are Chasen Shreve, Tommy Layne and Richard Bleier. None features Wilson’s 96-mph fastball velocity.
As for the starters’ market, after the White Sox sent ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox and outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals, many believe lefty starter Jose Quintana is likely to be dealt.
However, the industry buzz is the White Sox want just as much as they got from the Red Sox (four prospects headed by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech) for Quintana, who’ll be 29 in January and has averaged 200 or more innings in each of the last four years. He is 46-46 with a 3.41 ERA in 154 big league games (151 starts). He has two years and $17.85 million remaining on his contract.
Quintana has Yankees and Mets ties. He signed with the Mets in 2006 and was released in July a year later. The Yankees signed him as a minor league free agent in March 2008. After going 10-2 with a 2.91 ERA for Tampa (Single-A) in 30 games (12 starts) as a 22-year-old, Quintana was granted free agency and signed a minor league contract with the White Sox.