1. Nestor Cortes Jr.
The Cardinals and the Yankees have been trade buddies for a little while now. Talks were even had this trade deadline about a potential swap for Nestor Cortes Jr. and various Yankees' pitching prospects. Familiarity breeds content; Cardinals fans can hope that the Yankees are willing to make a deal to swap players to fill each other's weaknesses.
Up until the 2023 season, Nestor Cortes Jr. was putting up numbers that would place him as the number 2 or number 3 starter in most rotations across the league. He had a 3.60 ERA, a 4.16 FIP, a 1.153 WHIP, and ERA+ of 115, and he struck out just over 9 batters per nine innings. He was even an All-Star for the Yankees in 2022 along with placing 8th in Cy Young voting that year.
The 28-year-old Cortes is more of a groundball pitcher than he is a punchout pitcher, but he has shown the ability to rack up the K's in any given game. While he is apt to give up some hard hits here and there, Cortes does a good job at limiting base runners and barrel rates. His average hard-hit percentage against places him in the 34th percentile in the majors. The lefty also struggles slightly with fastball velocity, as he sits in the 9th percentile. His major calling card is command and control rather than whiffs and overpowering batters.
The story for Cortes in 2023 is a bit different than it has been for his career. This year, he has a 4.97 ERA, a 4.50 FIP, a 1.247 WHIP, and is walking batters at a rate that he hasn't before in his career. Another detriment to Cortes' performance this year has been his inability to stay healthy. He was able to pitch over 150 innings just last year, but he has been hindered by a plethora of injuries this year including a couple of stints on the IL due to some shoulder injuries.
Cortes has shown the ability to lead a staff, but he has struggled mightily this year. Perhaps the Yankees are willing to send him off to the Cardinals for an outfielder, especially a left fielder. Cortes has 2 more years of control left before he hits free agency in 2026. The Cardinals have plenty of controllable players who would be appealing to a Yankees team desperate for offensive and outfield help.