Trade rumors are no stranger to the Colorado Rockies this prolonged offseason, but one player most fans likely assumed would be spared from the trade talk is infielder Ryan McMahon. They would be wrong.
A recent story suggested that the New York Yankees should make an effort to trade for Ryan McMahon, citing his defensive versatility and offensive firepower. These are exactly the same reasons the Colorado Rockies would not want to part with the 25-year-old who just came off a very strong first full season, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 83 runs.
However, the Yankees have plenty of young talent (especially pitching talent) to offer and the Rockies have a lot of young infielders who could slot in at second base (Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson are the first that come to mind, with several more waiting in the wings).
The aforementioned article suggested the Yankees send Major-League-ready 24-year-old starter Mike King and their No. 5 prospect, 21-year-old right-hander Luis Gil back to Colorado in exchange for McMahon.
King only has two innings of MLB experience, but with the Yankees’ rotation injuries, he was in the mix to make the rotation entering Spring Training. King doesn’t throw hard but he has two very important qualities for someone who could potentially pitch at Coors Field: a low walk rate and a low home run rate.
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In 2018, King allowed just eight long balls in 161.1 innings across four minor league levels. His 2019 was shortened by an elbow injury, but he returned by the end of the season and made his major league debut. One of his best pitches is a sinking fastball, helping him generate twice as many groundouts as flyouts.
Gil is still young, but last summer Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell said the flamethrower “has all the ingredients to be a frontline (starter).” Gil generates plenty of strikeouts, not just with his triple-digit fastball, but also because he “spins the ball well,” according to Borrell.
While Gil still possesses some of the trademark issues typical of 21-year-old pitching prospects, he’s progressing rapidly, to the point where he is now the Yankees’ No. 2 pitching prospect.
Between Gil and King, this is a pretty decent return … but McMahon is a very good player with a high ceiling and he can easily slide over to first base to make room for one of the other middle infielders, lessening the burden on Colorado to make a move.
As badly as the team needs young pitching help, Rockies fans are rightfully hesitant when it comes to these kinds of trades. The failures of the Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki trades still haunt the club and their fanbase while the success of the Marquez trade seems to be the exception that proves the rule.
This trade most likely will not happen, and that’s probably a good thing. But if the Rockies were going to try to add some strong young arms at a medium-to-low cost, trading one of their middle infielders (not named Trevor Story) might not be a bad idea. They can’t all play and there’s no reason to waste a young, talented prospect at a log-jammed position when other aspects of the roster need help.