Friends, the stove is hot once again. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Yankees are currently “emerging as the frontrunner” for Pirates starter Jameson Taillon:

Joel Sherman seconded the report, noting that the Yankees are “strongly pursuing” him. There has been smoke here earlier this offseason, remember, and I’m inclined to think that there is fire here. I almost expect a deal to happen in the next few hours, given how this sort of thing goes for the Yankees.

Still, while this is just a rumor, it is an exciting one: Taillon, if healthy, exactly what the Yankee rotation needs. Trading for him would make me pretty satisfied with the Yankee offseason overall. He is a very good pitcher who would be an instant upgrade to the rotation, posting a 3.67 ERA (3.55 FIP, 89 ERA-) in 466 career innings. Taillon has good velocity and spin on his pitches. Though he doesn’t generate a ton of strikeouts (21.5%) , he really limits walks (6%) and keeps the ball in the yard.

The big concern, of course, is his health, as the former first rounder has twice undergone Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched since 2019. Derek covered Taillon earlier this winter, so check that for a full refresher on his arsenal.

The big question will be the sort of package the Yankees surrender. Taillon is a pretty big question mark due to his history, so I don’t think the package will be overwhelming. If they get it done, maybe the Yankees send back some high-upside prospects like Estevan Florian or Albert Abreu? Who knows. It’s always a fools game to try and predict this stuff. We’ll see if it even happens.

In the meantime, we’ll keep this post updated with any new info.

UPDATE (1/24, 11:27 am): Not a ton has moved on this since last night, but there is definitely still smoke here. First is this report from the Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, which confirms that the Yanks are the front-runner and that a deal should happen today:

Mackey’s follow-up story notes that the Rays are also in on him, for what it’s worth. Ken Rosenthal also joined the fun, confirming the Yanks are in on Taillon. (It turns out Rosenthal, like the rest of us, reads Twitter.)

Finally, a few more notes on the sort of package that’s potentially at play here. Mackey notes that Cherington will want a “haul”, but it’s unclear what that means. Here is what has been reported so far:

  • The Pirates are seeking a “young catcher with upside.” (Chris Cotillo)
  • They also want “prospects with upside,” much as every team does in every single trade. (Jon Heyman)

Not super helpful! That said, the Yanks have two catchers in Anthony Siegler and Josh Breaux who might fit the bill for Pittsburgh. There is also the 40-man backlog, which the Yankees will need to clear to add Kluber and LeMahieu, plus Taillon if a trade were to happen. As BA’s Josh Norris notes, there are plenty on the 40-man with upside from the lower minors:

By my count, this includes 5 SP (Yoendrys Gomez, Roansy Contreras, Luis Gil, Alexander Vizcaino, Luis Medina), 1 SS (Oswald Peraza), and 1 OF (Estevan Florial). Florial, obviously, did make his MLB debut in 2020 but I’m not sure we should count that. I’m sure the bulk of this package would be made up of guys like this, plus possibly Miguel Yajure, Albert Abreu, or Brooks Kriske.

In general, I like this strategy. Removing a 40-man backlog to improve the current team in a contention window is a smart approach. So what do we think the package will ultimately look like?

Peraza probably stays put, as Pittsburgh has a few SS in their system already, so it’s probably some combination of the others. If Cotillo is right, I’d bet Breaux is included in any final Yankee package. Of the rest, I’m partial to keeping Gil, Medina, Gomez, and Abreu, but as they say: there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. (Also, I doubt Frazier or Andújar is moved here, but who knows.)

We’ll keep updating if anything else comes up.

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