NEW YORK — Hal Steinbrenner says his New York Yankees may need a starting pitching upgrade if they’re going to reach their first World Series since 2009.
Steinbrenner, the Yankees managing general partner, said Wednesday that the club will explore the trade market for an arm, especially considering the recent loss of left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who had season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 7.
The Yankees entered Wednesday with the best record in baseball, narrowly ahead of AL East rival Boston. The club has space to acquire an impact player and still remain under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, a goal the team has stated several times.
“Clearly starting pitching was always a concern,” Steinbrenner said, speaking to a small group of reporters at a quarterly owners’ meeting. “It’s definitely one of the areas we’re going to be looking at.
“Purposely left a decent amount of money for just this,” he added. “If we decide to go get a pitcher and if a pitcher’s available, I think we definitely have the flexibility that would allow me to do just that.”
Cole Hamels, Chris Archer and Madison Bumgarner are among the biggest names that could potentially be available at the deadline, but they would likely cost one or more of New York’s blue-chip prospects. Steinbrenner wants to be cautious about moving high-ceiling youngsters to beef up the rotation.
“It depends what the asks are. I mean, I love the young guys,” he said. “Our fans love the young guys, and I think it’s obvious to all of us. They’ve made a heck of an impact, and to see Gleyber (Torres) and (Miguel) Andujar and others, you know, right off the heels of (Aaron) Judge and (Gary) Sanchez and (Luis) Severino, I mean it’s pretty amazing.”
The team does have internal options, and Steinbrenner said he’s willing to stick by some young, untested pitchers if needed. Jonathan Loaisiga will make his major league debut Friday, rookie Domingo German has held his own in six starts, and prospects Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams and Erik Swanson could get looks later this year, too.
“We’ve got some options for August, September, but again, we’re going to look at anything that comes across our desk,” Steinbrenner said.
OFF AND RUNNING
Steinbrenner praised first-year manager Aaron Boone, pleased with his performance thus far despite the rookie manager having no professional coaching experience prior to the season.
“Everything we could ask for. Calm, cool, collected,” Steinbrenner said. “Players have a lot of respect for him. He’s been great in the clubhouse and he’s been great with his coaching staff, and the coaches he’s brought in have been good so I mean it’s as advertised.”
Giancarlo Stanton has been good, but not great, in his first year with the Yankees. He entered Wednesday batting .240 with 14 homers, 34 RBIs and a .797 OPS — compared with a 1.007 OPS when he won the NL MVP Award last season. Steinbrenner believes New York’s marquee offseason acquisition will crank up his production soon, though.
“He’s had ups and downs, but when he gets hot, he’ll carry a team,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve all seen that and it will happen. Work ethic is great. Worked his way right into the clubhouse in a great way, teammates like him, so he’s going to be great.”
New York has had eight games either postponed or suspended by poor weather already this season. If that wasn’t enough of an inconvenience, they’ve also encountered their share of travel snafus — which included having to spend a night at Dulles International Airport in mid-May due to weather and a problem with the plane.
As an experienced pilot himself, Steinbrenner understands that air travel can be an inexact science.
“We all fly commercial and even small jets, even my plane has problems from time to time and I fly a dinky little propeller plane,” he said. “So you start to get into these airliners, I mean they’re complex from the avionics to the life support systems to the engines to the hydraulics. They’re just complicated machines. … It’s obviously air transportation, very reliable and very safe. But it’s very safe and very reliable because they don’t take a plane up if it’s not close to 100 percent, right?”