Could Yankees backing off lead Astros to Blake Snell or Dylan Cease?

Might the Astros seize an opportunity to bolster their rotation and wound the Yankees in one fell swoop?
San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell
San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

The Houston Astros, while a bit sluggish in the early going of Grapefruit League action, should be among the best teams in baseball when the dust settles. With Jose Altuve, Yordan Álvarez, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker stepping into the batter's box every night, opposing pitchers are going to have a problem.

The back end of the bullpen, much like the Astros lineup, will be elite in 2024. Though some questions remain about the middle innings, if Houston can maintain a lead heading into the seventh inning, Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader are going to lock things down most nights.

But the Astros rotation is bit of a question mark. The New York Yankees had been chasing after Dylan Cease earlier this offseason, and recent reports suggest that Brian Cashman and agent Scott Boras have had conversations centering around Blake Snell. Maybe now is the moment for the Astros to kill two birds with one stone by solidifying the rotation and sticking it to the Yankees.

Could Yankees backing off lead Astros to Blake Snell or Dylan Cease?

The Astros already surprised the baseball world earlier this offseason after agreeing to make Hader the highest-paid reliever in Major League Baseball history. Why not shock the pundits once again and also send Cashman crying to the back page of the New York newspapers if he's not going to take his Snell pursuit seriously?

The Yankees are arguably the Astros' biggest competition in the American League next season. Taking nothing away from AL West Division rivals, the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, but the Yankees lineup is one of the most imposing in baseball. Add the Baltimore Orioles to the list, and it would be rather unbelievable if one of those five teams wasn't representing the AL in the World Series.

The Yankees tried to snag Cease earlier this offseason, but the price tag was said to be too high. New York then settled on Marcus Stroman who, if we're being honest, is a middle of the rotation starter in a good rotation. Throw in Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes, and Gerrit Cole, and you can see why the Yankees are high on Snell. Acquiring the reigning NL Cy Young Award-winner could put them in the cat bird's seat in the American League. So ... why are they still so far apart in potential conversations, as Jon Heyman noted on Tuesday?

The Astros shouldn't close the door to Blake Snell

At last year's trade deadline, the Astros were said to have interest in both a starter and reliever from the San Diego Padres. Seeing as how both Hader and Snell were free agents to be and San Diego had fallen out of contention, the logical conclusion is that Houston was looking to snag both southpaws from the Padres last summer.

That would lead one to believe that there's obvious interest from the Astros' camp when it comes to Snell. However, having already blown past last year's payroll and crossed the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, any deal the Astros now execute will come with added dollars to the contract.

But with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. out until midseason, and former Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander dealing with shoulder issues during his age 41 season, it's easy to see how the Astros could use another proven starter. After watching Cody Bellinger, who's also represented by Boras, sign a short-term, high AAV deal with the Chicago Cubs, perhaps the Astros could do something similar with Snell.

Either one of Dylan Cease or Blake Snell is going to cost the Houston Astros prospect capital or a lot of money, but adding depth the rotation while watching the New York Yankees fumble away another opportunity would be priceless.