Yankees have only 1 option after Orioles land Corbin Burnes

The New York Yankees should probably circle back to Blake Snell.

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles struck a major deal on Thursday night, acquiring RHP Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for SS Joey Ortiz and LHP D.L. Hall. Fresh off an impressive 101-win season that saw them claim the No. 1 seed in a competitive AL East, the Orioles just pushed their chips in. Even with new ownership, few expected Baltimore to slam the gas pedal so suddenly.

It has to come as a shock to the New York Yankees, who are gunning for first place in the division after a disappointing fourth-place finish in 2023. New York has been the most active team in the American League, at least when it comes to high-profile moves. The Yankees traded for Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo, and added Marcus Stroman via free agency.

The Yankees have the offensive firepower to stick with anybody, and it's difficult to complain about the 1-2 punch of Gerrit Cole and Stroman on the mound. That said, pitching is still a relative weak point for New York. Stroman struggled down the stretch last season and he's a groundball pitcher in front of a below-average defense. New York's other keystone starters — Carlos Rodon, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes — weren't too hot either.

If the Yankees want to keep up in the AL East arms race, which the Orioles were never supposed to join, it could take a drastic move from Brian Cashman and the front office. That drastic move could (and probably should) involve the best free-agent starter left, Blake Snell.

Yankees should answer Orioles' Corbin Burnes trade with Blake Snell signing

The Yankees are, to date, the only known team to submit an official offer to Snell. It was for six years and $150 million. The 31-year-old rejected it, with his demand sitting at $270 million over nine years. That is a vast gap between the two sides. So vast, in fact, that New York has "moved on" from Snell, per Bob Klapisch of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Well... maybe it's time to circle back. The Yankees would join an exclusive list of teams to employ both reigning Cy Young winners. Snell has won baseball's most prestigious pitching award twice now. He led the National League in ERA last season (2.25), going 14-9 in 32 starts and posting 234 strikeouts in 180.0 innings.

There are durability concerns, as Snell has only reached the 30-start and 180-inning thresholds in two of the last six years — not coincidentally, the two years (2018 and 2023) that he won Cy Young. He also led the NL in walks last season, an ongoing bugaboo for an otherwise infallible arm.

That, and the general voltaility of pitchers in their late-30s, is why the Yankees walked away from Snell. Frankly, $270 million is probably an overpay. At the very least, it's a major risk. We are also two weeks from spring training, though, and it's clear Snell's price will come down eventually. The two sides can surely figure out a suitable compromise if the Yankees will it so.

Snell is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he's healthy. New York has more spending power than 95 percent of the league. Even if the Yankees have to go beyond their comfort zone to add Snell, it's probably worth it. Especially now that Baltimore is making such a strong stand atop the division.

Snell as the No. 2 behind Cole is a fearsome thought. Pitching would go from the Yankees' weakness to a source of intimidation. Stacking Cole and Snell back-to-back in a playoff series is a huge advantage. There's still time for New York to get Snell back on the phone, but they'll have to move quickly.

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