The New York Yankees are set to start the season without franchise ace Gerrit Cole, who is expected to miss the first 10 to 12 weeks with an elbow injury.

Even before the infamously-durable pitcher was ruled out until at least June, the Yankees had a relatively shallow rotation, and have been exploring the trade market and engaging with free agents to improve that.

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been scouring the trade market for some pitching depth before the 2024 season.

Reflecting on potential “Yankees trade options” to replace Cole, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports outlined the case for acquiring Shane Bieber, the 2020 Cy Young Award winner, from the Cleveland Guardians.

“They have realistic designs on winning the AL Central this season, but Cleveland ownership is always eager to reduce their roster investments regardless of how it harms the on-field product,” Perry wrote. “Still just 28, Bieber is going into his walk year in 2024.”

Shane Bieber Is a Possible Trade Candidate for the New York Yankees

There is certainly a case to be made that Bieber will end up being traded before his one-year, $13.125 million deal with the Guardians is up. Tim Britton of The Athletic projected Bieber to earn a five-year, $95 million deal for 2025 and beyond, and Cleveland could be eager to receive some trade value in return before deciding they won’t match competitive offers to extend him in the offseason.

But Bieber is not quite the pitcher he was during a historic 2020 that saw him win MLB’s pitching Triple Crown, leading the bigs in ERA, strikeouts and wins. In 2023, he pitched for a respectable 3.80 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 21 starts, but injury concerns have clouded a potential future with the Yankees.

“Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, a Cy Young Award winner in 2020, is another pitcher who has been discussed by teams as a trade target, but there are some concerns about his health after arm issues limited him to 21 starts last season,” Buster Olney reported for ESPN while evaluating potential Yankees trade targets.

Perry noted those concerns but added that Bieber might be making enough progress in the offseason to entice New York as a suitor.

“Bieber has suffered steep velocity loss in recent years and in 2023 struggled by his prior standards,” he added. “However, he worked on regaining some lost fastball mph this past winter and has shown promise on that front during Spring Training.”

The New York Yankees Might Wait Until Midseason on a Trade for Shane Bieber

After getting the news that Cole will likely return in the first half of the season, the Yankees might feel they have some time to evaluate their rotation and potential trade targets before pulling the trigger. For a potential option like Bieber, whose value largely depends on his ability to return to an MVP-caliber form, a trade closer to the 2024 deadline seems more likely.

“For teams that might be interested in Bieber, it’s worth it to wait and see how he performs to start 2024,” according to Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report. “Elbow inflammation can certainly be a foreboding sign, so the first few weeks and months should provide enough evidence pointing to whether it’s a larger issue. Depending on where the Guardians sit in the standings, a Bieber trade might be more attractive closer to the July 30 deadline.”