The New York Yankees were eliminated by the Houston Astros in the 2019 ALCS, and it was thanks in large part to the performances of Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
Houston's "big three" starters were all acquired via trade; Verlander was sent to the Astros in 2017 - and he was integral in helping them win the World Series that year. And he's a key reason why they're in the big dance right now.
After their World Series championship, the Astros acquired All-Star pitcher Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in an offseason blockbuster deal. And ahead of this year's deadline, they picked up Greinke in a blockbuster deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Washington Nationals also came away with stud pitcher Patrick Corbin in free agency (six years, $140 million), and he's played a huge part in helping them get to the World Series.
The deep-pocketed Yankees, meanwhile, stayed away from acquiring any of these marquee arms - even though their rotation has had a handful of question marks in recent years. As such, many baseball pundits and Yankees fans have been critical of general manager Brian Cashman for not landing any of the big-named pitchers that are now in the World Series.
However, Cashman shut down that notion and offered explanations as to why the Yankees didn't come away with either star.
"I didn’t pass on them," Cashman said, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post. "Verlander was not someone that was in play because of those (luxury tax). protocols that were in place."
"Did we not make an offer for Patrick Corbin, yes or no?," Cashman added. "You know the answer. … We made an offer. The Washington Nationals made a more significant offer for him.'"
And in regards to Cole? Cashman simply pointed out that the Astros "made an offer that in Pittsburgh’s mind was a better offer than ours."
The Yankees leaned on a rotation consisting of Luis Severino, C.C. Sabathia (now retired), James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka - with their deep bullpen eating up plenty of innings as well. But New York's pitching simply couldn't match up with the Astros, and if the Yankees had somehow acquired at least one of Verlander, Cole, Greinke or Corbin, you can't help but wonder if they'd be in the World Series right now.
Yankees Must Address Pitching This Winter
New York boasts one of baseball's deepest lineups as well as a championship-caliber bullpen, but they have to try and find an ace pitcher this offseason. Cole, a pending free agent, might be too rich for them. But Noah Syndergaard, Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner are among the top candidates they could go after this offseason. Of course, it all depends on if ownership will allow Cashman to go over the luxury tax this time around.