The James Paxton trade was one of the first of Major League Baseball's offseason, and part of the New York Yankees' thinking in grabbing the left-hander from Seattle was that it would inoculate them from any desperation. No matter what followed, the Yankees would know that their rotation would start with Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, and that they would not feel compelled to overbid or overcompensate.
When the Washington Nationals added a sixth year to their offer for Patrick Corbin, the Yankees did not chase that. Nor did any other team. Corbin relies heavily on his slider, a pitch that has historically had a troublesome relationship with elbow ligaments, and for a lot of evaluators, six years and more than $100 million is a major gamble.
The Yankees are left to consider next-best options in their quest to improve their team.
1. Nathan Eovaldi. He is regarded as the best right-hander on the market. The Yankees know him well from his time with the team and from his work against them in 2018, when his pure stuff had more movement than ever before. His World Series heroics only added to his value, and a bidding war for him is imminent. The Red Sox would like the keep him, the Yankees would like him, and he's an absolutely perfect fit for the Houston Astros. Eovaldi grew up just outside of Houston; he is the type of hard thrower that the Astros have targeted in recent winters, and soon enough, Jeff Luhnow will have his own starting pitching concerns. Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel moved into free agency this winter, and next winter, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole could become eligible to follow. On a four- or five-year deal, Eovaldi could be a bridge in 2020 for the Astros.