Yankees chase aces, eyeing young lefty Luzardo while talks simmer with veteran Bieber

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The New York Yankees have expressed interest in bolstering their starting pitching, with reports indicating discussions with the Miami Marlins regarding left-hander Jesus Luzardo. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale provides further details, revealing that the Yankees have also reached out to the Cleveland Guardians to inquire about right-hander Shane Bieber.

Luzardo and Bieber in the Yankees’ crosshairs

The pursuit of Luzardo and Bieber exemplifies the diverse options the Yankees are exploring to reinforce their rotation. Luzardo, a 26-year-old southpaw, presents a longer-term solution, as he is under arbitration control through the 2026 season. In contrast, Bieber, projected to earn $12.2 million in 2024, represents a potential short-term fix, considering it is his final season before entering free agency. While Bieber is reportedly open to a contract extension with a new team following a trade, the Yankees, known for rarely offering such extensions, might not align with this preference.

Bieber has been a persistent trade candidate for the Guardians, particularly as he enters his last year of team control. The Guardians have already traded veteran pitcher Cal Quantrill this offseason, and with the rest of their rotation being talented yet relatively inexperienced, they may contemplate retaining Bieber to strengthen their pitching staff. However, Bieber’s 2023 season was limited to 128 innings due to elbow inflammation, and his performance, with a 3.80 ERA, did not reach the elite level of his earlier career.

Despite Bieber’s potential contribution, the Guardians might consider dealing him for a longer-term asset, especially if he may not factor into their future plans. The challenge for the Yankees lies in matching up with the Guardians, as their young pitching assets were depleted in the Juan Soto trade, and their young infield depth might not entice the Guardians, who already have a surplus of young infielders.

The Yankees are unlikely to trade top minor league talent for just a year of Bieber’s services. However, they may entertain such a move for Luzardo, who is coming off an impressive first full and healthy season as a starting pitcher. Luzardo posted a 3.58 ERA over 178 2/3 innings, showcasing solidly above-average strikeout and walk rates.

While the shortstop-needy Marlins might find Oswald Peraza appealing, acquiring Luzardo would demand more than just Peraza. Numerous teams may have inquired about a potential Luzardo trade with the Marlins, and given Luzardo’s age, ability, and three years of control, the Marlins could reasonably demand multiple top-100 prospects in return.

Unlike the situation with Bieber and the Guardians, there is no imminent deadline for Luzardo’s time in Miami. For the Marlins to consider moving Luzardo, president of baseball operations Peter Bendix would likely require a compelling offer. The Marlins may explore trading a starter for hitting help, with Edward Cabrera, Trevor Rogers, or Braxton Garrett potentially being more likely trade candidates than Luzardo. With Sandy Alcantara sidelined for 2024 due to Tommy John surgery, Luzardo and Eury Perez are positioned as the foundation of the talented Miami rotation.

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