As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
New York Yankees: 39-39, 4th in the AL East
The New York Yankees started off the 2016 season in similar fashion to their past three seasons; with a shaky offense and a pitching rotation that could use some waking up. The revitalization of CC Sabathia can only carry the team for so long. With a difficult schedule ahead of them, the Bronx Bombers have their work cut out for them if they want a postseason appearance.
The Yankees have always been seated at the buyers’ table, though they’ve gone off script with inactivity over the last two major transaction periods. After making only one small deal last July (getting Dustin Ackley from the Mariners), the Yankees did not sign a major-league free agent all winter and made just two significant trades (Aroldis Chapman from the Reds and Starlin Castro from the Cubs).
That inactivity, paired with an aging group in the Bronx, has many questioning if the Yankees could actually become sellers this season.
What moves have they made so far?
The Yankees have done very little so far in way of adding to their roster and the changes they did make have failed to have an impact. One of those additions was the signing of Ike Davis, who gave a less than impressive performance in pinstripes.
Davis was brought to the team to hold down first base while Mark Teixeira healed from his sequential neck and knee injuries. It’s almost a surprise that the Yankees didn’t already have someone on retainer for the month of May, when Teixeira would inevitably injure himself, as he does every single year. Yet, after Rob Refsnyder proved himself to be more worthy of the title of first baseman, Davis was designated for assignment and sent to Triple-A.
On May 14th, the Yankees acquired right-hander J.R. Graham in a small trade with the Twins for a player to be named later or cash considerations. This attempt at bolstering their bullpen has seen little results. Still down in Trenton, Graham has been average, and another one of the infamous Yankee projects. If the Yanks can focus him more on middle relief, he’s equipped with a hard enough fastball to do some 6th inning damage.
Are they buyers or sellers?
As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported earlier in the week, the Yankees are still undecided about how to approach the deadline and could be either buyers or sellers.
New York undoubtedly has some of the best trade chips available at the deadline, and would get huge returns if it decided to move Chapman or Miller. Carlos Beltran is also drawing interest from teams looking for a bat, meaning the Yanks may be wise to sell players they could lose this winter anyway.
The Yankees have never been sellers; that’s just not the franchise way. And if they try to buy, it’s unclear what they’ll be able get with the limited players they have to offer. In contrast to Boston’s decision a few years ago of burning everything to the ground and rebuilding, the Yankees hold on to their prospects for dear life until they’re ineffective. And then they cycle restarts.
The Yanks are in a unique position at this juncture in that they could truly go either way. While an aggressive buying spree seems unlikely after a timid offseason, a sale of pending free agents like Chapman and Beltran would make sense.
What moves could they make?
While Yankee Stadium is showcasing "No Runs DMC" t-shirts in the front of all of their stores for Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, such franchise commodity may have been prematurely screen-printed. Betances, is going to be burnt out by the end of August if they Yankees keep playing him in the same trend. If his arm goes, by next season, the triad may just be reduced to an "M".
Chapman is the most expendable of the trio, as a pending free agent. For an October-bound team, a strong closer is never a bad move. The Yankees could come away with the quality middle reliever they so desperately need by trading Chapman now, and could have Chapman back in the bullpen next year by re-signing him over the winter. He’s going to wait to play the market for next season and the Yankees will be front and center to re-sign him as a free agent. He likes New York and having the spotlight on him, and he’s done well with the Yanks. If the Yanks toss their hat into the ring, there’s a high chance Chapman will bite.
Chapman seems to be the most likely of the “No Runs DMC” trio to be dealt, as Miller is controllable for two more years. Multiple teams, including the Cubs, Red Sox, Nationals, Giants, Dodgers and Rangers, have already been linked to Chapman and Miller and would likely attempt to acquire them if they’re available.
In terms of position players, it’s likely that Beltran will be gone before the trade deadline if the Yankees decide to sell. Although Beltran is currently the best bat in the lineup, he’s also one of the Yankee’s biggest bargaining chips. He’d be a fit for multiple teams looking for a power-hitting outfielder to add to the lineup. The Yankees would give up the 39-year old outfielder for, you guessed it, more prospects. While Mark Teixeira is also a free agent after the year, it’s doubtful a team will want him due to his familiarity with the disabled list. If a club is willing to make an offer, the Yankees may jump at it.
If the Yanks buy, they would be interested in starting pitching and building up a stronger arsenal of bats. There is an impending exodus of veterans with expiring contracts come September. When the season is over, Beltran and Texieria will most be given their walking papers.
On a more optimistic note, Didi Gregorius is shaping up to be the Yankees’ permanent fixture at shortstop. He’s the youngest starter on the roster, and gives the Yankees a solid player to build their new infield around. Gregorius is the Derek Jeter replacement Yankee fans had been hoping for. He may not showcase the defensive agility that Jeter was known for, but his bat may have more pop than that of the former captain.
Regardless of what many fans want to argue, Joe Girardi isn’t going anywhere. General manager Brian Cashman is closer to the chopping block than Girardi. Girardi is a good manager, arguably one of the best in the league, but it’s hard not to look sideways when the richest team in baseball has had a rough past couple of years. But at the end of the day, he’s at the mercy of Cashman and the front office. Though Cashman has made some great moves, such as the Alex Rodriguez deal of many moons ago, he seems to have a higher chance of getting axed than Girardi.
Pitching is the backbone of a baseball team, as pitching wins championships. When it comes to their players, the Yankees seem to move at a glacial pace or too quickly. There is no in between. The middle of their bullpen has been plagued with injuries and is now reduced to what feels like a Little League team. By going after many free agents, the Yanks have lost many draft picks over the years and have lost the ability to build up a strong farm system. The morale is on the outs too. The stadium feels sterile, the fans starched, the spirit, gone. What the Yankees need to do is solidify their pitching staff, have more faith in their prospects, and restructure their franchise around young players in order to bring energy back in to the Bronx.