As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
New York Yankees: 42-34, tied for 1st in the American League East
Despite claiming a 5-11 record since going out to the west coast on June 12, the Yankees remain in contention at the top of the AL East in what is looking like a classic division race between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Aside from those two, the Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays are all 5.5 games or less behind first place, so this is anyone’s division at this point in the season.
The Yankees have endured an abundance of injuries around the diamond, starting with Didi Gregorius to open the season. The team has also suffered injuries to Aroldis Chapman, Gary Sanchez and Jacoby Ellsbury who have all since returned. Currently, the team is without CC Sabathia, who anchored the rotation as the stopper before his injury, Greg Bird, whom the Yankees have some serious concerns that he may not return this season, Adam Warren, Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday and now, Tyler Austin once again.
Though this Yankee team has battled through many injuries, the process of the Yankees’ youth movement has been expedited much quicker than anyone anticipated and the prospects may keep the Yankees in the race throughout the season.
On the field, Aaron Judge has taken the league by storm, playing to an MVP pace as he leads the American League in all thre Triple-Crown categories with a .333 batting average, 27 homers, and 62 RBIs. He also leads the AL in runs scored, on base percentage, slugging, OPS, and walks. The rest of the outfield of Brett Gardner, Ellsbury and Hicks have all contributed heavily, and Hicks, Gardner, Gregorius and Sanchez have made strong cases for making the All-Star team.
The starting pitching has been surprisingly strong, despite Masahiro Tanaka’s disastrous first half, though he has been encouraging in his last few starts as he is now 6-7 with a 5.56 ERA on the season. Luis Severino has finally showed his ace potential as he is 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA. Michael Pineda has been less-inconsistent than he has been in years past, and Jordan Montgomery has been a more than formidable back-end of the rotation pitcher.
Aside from Dellin Betances and Chapman, the bullpen has encountered serious struggles with handling late leads as Tyler Clippard and others have been the subject of some heavy criticism.
Although the Yankees have been reeling of late, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has insisted on rebuilding while simultaneously competing, and the team has done that. Cashman has shown he will be reluctant in dealing from the top of his deep farm system that he acquired at last year’s deadline, but the Yankees have glaring needs at third base, first base, middle relief, and they could also use a starting pitcher.
What moves have they made so far?
The Yankees have made some minor moves as a result of designating players for assignment. In late April, Pete Kozma was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers. The Yankees then went over a month without any noteworthy moves before trading Ruben Tejada to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. The club also designated Tommy Layne and Chris Carter for assignment before ultimately optioning both of them to Triple-A.
Cashman seems to be committing to the youth movement of late as he called on Baby Bombers Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar and Dustin Fowler to come up to the big leagues to fill in for the injuries to Castro, Holliday and Austin. That youth movement is likely to continue as prospects on the cusp of the show continue making their cases to come up, such as Clint Frazier, Chance Adams and others.
Are they buyers or sellers?
After their massive fire sale last deadline where the team acquired prospects Gleyber Torres, Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and others to continue stacking their loaded farm system, the Yankees have the opportunity to deal from their prospect stash this year. The Yankees may not have been expected to be in their current position at the top of the AL East, but their standing and heated race with the Red Sox may put some pressure on the ball club to to acquire MLB talent to improve the roster.
Expect the Yankees to be buyers, but it may be unwise to anticipate any blockbuster deals. Cashman has optimized many buy-low situations over the past few seasons, and he may look to do much of the same at this year’s deadline.
Who could they trade?
The Yankees don’t appear to be looking to trade players at the Major League level as they look to continue contending throughout the season. As previously mentioned, Cashman does have a solid farm system to deal from, with mid-level guys such as Adams, Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, as well as top-level guys such as Blake Rutherford, Clint Frazier and Jorge Mateo. The only likely untouchable prospect will be Gleyber Torres, and Cashman would be hard-pressed dealing Frazier, unless it was for a top-line starter.
At the big league level, the Yankees could potentially trade Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine, forcing them to run with Kyle Higashioka as the backup catcher, and prospects to fill in the Refsnyder utility role. However, other than those two, don’t expect the Yankees to deal any heavy contributors that they have relied on for much of this season. That includes Gardner, despite the fact that he has been rumored in trade talks for what seems like an eternity.
The Yankees have been linked to a number of established big leaguers including Eric Hosmer, Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana, Justin Bour, Yonder Alonso, Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier as well as former Yankees David Robertson, Eduardo Nunez, Yangervis Solarte and Martin Prado. At the end of the day, the Yankees will be buyers, but cautious ones at that after Cashman will likely show reluctance in dealing from the top of his loaded farm system.
Still, the Yankees could include Frazier, Mateo and others in a deal for either Gray or Quintana to solidify the rotation, or they could look for middle relief help. With the concern surrounding first base, a real possibility for the Yankees is Bour from Miami instead of Hosmer, due to the Royals recent surge that has led the front office to question whether they would like to sell or not.
At third base, the Yankees have expressed interest in filling the void via the trade market, but the pressure to hold onto the farm system along with contribution from Wade and Andujar may be too valuable to give up anything, so the Yankees would be smart to stand pat there and roll with their in-house options.
One thing is for sure, the Yankees will be at the forefront of much speculation and many rumors over the course of the next month. We have not seen a Yankees and Red Sox division race where they finished first and second respectively since 2009. So although the Yankees were not expected to compete the way they are this year, they may elect to make a postseason push in spite of the fact that many expected this year to be a rebuild in all facets.