I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. It was a quiet week in Yankeeland, but there was one small story I wanted to go back and touch on before we pressed on into the heart of the offseason. Last week Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees had "let teams know Ivan Nova is available" in a trade if they were interested. This is noteworthy for two reasons. One, the Yankees are on the record as being in the market for starting pitching this offseason and Nova is a starting pitcher, and two, Nova really wasn't good this past season and hasn't been anything special in his MLB career. The idea of teams lining up to make the Yankees a trade offer after finding out he's available is borderline laughable.
Sherman's report went on to explain that the Yankees are looking for starters with more years of team control remaining, something that Nova does not have. The 2016 season will be his final arbitration year before free agency and the Yankees must be hoping they can move him for somebody who will be around a little longer rather than keep him next year and then lose him for nothing.
And therein lies the real story in this report. This isn't about the Yankees trying to add more cost-controlled starting pitching in 2016 so much as it's about the Yankees' plans for Nova in 2016 and beyond. What this report tells me is that the Yankees not only don't see Nova as part of their starting rotation plan next year, but they also aren't planning on re-signing him after next year. They've already started the process of moving on from Nova and they'd rather trade him now and get something back that they need than hold onto him next year as a redundant, unnecessary part of the roster.
That organizational mindset is spelled out in Sherman's report. He takes special care to point out that the Yankees "are not selling low on Nova" and then rattles off all the positively spun things that could be used to up his trade value in talks. He'll be healthier next year, he'll be motivated, he's cost-efficient in his final arb year, and he's still in his physical prime at age 29. All of those things are or could be true, but if they're all true then why are the Yankees trying to trade the guy? He's a young, cost-controlled starting pitcher and they have said they're looking for young, cost-controlled starting pitchers. The only reason they would be looking to move him is if they were selling low.
So take the report however you want, but the truth is that Nova has been inconsistent in his Yankee tenure and he's lost the position he once held as an important piece of the team's future plans. By my count he's the 7th starter on the current 40-man roster, and if the Yankees think they can turn their 7th starter into a better starter, that's something they should pursue. Nova isn't going to bring that kind of return back on his own, but I could see a scenario or two in which he's part of a multiple player package that brings back a better young starter.