Here’s how the Yankees can trade for Jameson Taillon

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The Yankees have their sights set on Jameson Taillon. Here’s what they need to send to the Pirates to make a trade happen. 

Signing Corey Kluber in free agency was never going to be the only move the Yankees made to strengthen their rotation this offseason. It now appears that New York’s next step will be to consummate a trade for Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon.

According to MLB insider Mark Feinsand, the Yankees are “emerging as the frontrunner” to land Taillon in the coming days. The Pirates have already offloaded Joe Musgrove and are anxious to shed some additional salary.

The 29-year-old right-hander is only set to make $2.25 million this season before heading into his final year of arbitration next year.

Part of Pittsburgh’s motivation to move Taillon is because they aren’t sure what they might get out of him moving forward due to injury concerns. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and that sidelined him for the entire 2020 campaign. Taillon should be ready to go when Spring Training begins, but any team acquiring him will assume some degree of risk.

The Yankees are happy to take that gamble to slot Taillon in behind Gerrit Cole and Kluber atop their rotation. Of course, Brian Cashman will only pull the trigger on a deal if the price is right.

The advantage the Pirates enjoy in negotiations is that the Yankees will need to offload three players in the deal to alleviate their 40-man roster crunch. That means New York should be willing to include a few players ready to contribute in the majors in 2021 as a part of the deal.

What would a Jameson Taillon trade package look like from the Yankees

The headliner moving in Pittsburgh’s direction should be Miguel Andujar. The Yankees are down on him due to his defensive failures, but he still profiles as an above-average bat with the ability to hit for extra bases. The Pirates aren’t ready to contend so they can afford to allow him to work out his defensive issues at the major league level.

Projecting the rest of the players in the deal is more complicated. The Pirates will start negotiations by asking for a high-level prospect like Luis Gil. His excellent performance in the Dominican League this winter has his stock ascending in the minds of scouts around the league. Predictably, the Yankees are going to push back on parting with him.

Instead, look for New York to offer talented, but less established prospects as the finishing pieces to the deal. Michael King will be a consideration, but the Yankees want to keep him due to his ability to eat innings as a starter. The team will be much more likely to include potential relievers in the deal. That makes Albert Abreu and Miguel Yajure the two most likely players to head to the Pirates to finish off the deal.

Andujar, Abreu, and Yajure might seem like a steep price to pay for a pitcher who didn’t throw a single inning in 2020, but Taillon’s upside makes it a worthwhile move for the Yankees. They need to add a relatively inexpensive, high-upside arm to fortify their rotation in 2021. Taillon fits the bill.

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