MLB: New York Yankees at Texas Rangers

As trade deadline approaches, decision time for the Yankees

With the Yankees in first place in the American League and time winding down until Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, the question on the mind’s of Yankees fans is what the next couple of days will bring the Bronx Bombers. While one might expect a team in the Yankees’ position would of course be looking to trade from their minor league system to add a talent boost that might push New York over the top in the playoffs, what’s been reported about the Yankees’ efforts on the trade front falls well short of that. So far at least, it appears the Yankees are making their top prospects untouchable in trade discussions and as Joel Sherman of the New York Daily News points out it would be very difficult for New York to add someone like David Price without including at least one of Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, or Jorge Mateo in the deal.

If we are to take this stance at face value and while putting any faith in a team’s public posturing can be dangerous just bare with me, it seems like the Yankees want to have their cake and eat it too. The Yankees want to add a big pitcher as they’ve been linked to both Price and Cole Hamels before that, but they weren’t kidding when they said the Phillies were asking for more than they were comfortable with parting with as Philadelphia ended up accepting a package of six players from Texas for Hamels. While the Rangers didn’t have to part with their very best prospects Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Chi Chi Gonzalez, or Dillon Tate, Hamels still cost them a hefty package of players that the Yankees deemed too steep of a cost.

If the Yankees aren’t able to find a deal that suits their needs over the next two days, then it’ll really be time to start asking some questions. The Yankees are in first place with a sizable lead and unbelievably we’re actually asking the question of what to expect when your team didn’t expect to contend this year? The Yankees don’t want to part with their top prospects for a player set to hit free agency at the end of the season and that’s understandable because those deals hardly happen anymore. Hamels has three years left on his contract after 2015 and required significantly more talent in return than, say, Johnny Cueto, who is a free agent this offseason (though it’s also worth noting that the Phillies also sent Texas money and took Matt Harrison’s contract to offset Hamels’ remaining contract).

Still, if the Yankees were so worried about hanging onto their prospects and keeping the future in tact, why didn’t they spend their money on an ace this past offseason? It’s one thing to be shopping for an ace now that the team is two months away from its first division title since 2012, but even with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda both surrounded by question marks coming into the season, New York’s big offseason move to add pitching was getting Nathan Eovaldi and they created a major hole at second base when they gave up veteran Martin Prado (as well as David Phelps) to do it.

While there’s still time for Brian Cashman and company to get a deal done and we all know how perfect Future Yankee David Price would look in pinstripes (and the Yankees and Tigers are familiar trade partners and Detroit also a productive but expensive second baseman), this entire dilemma could’ve been avoided had the Yankees addressed their needs better this past offseason. Retaining the services of Chase Headley was the Yankees big move while they let reliever David Robertson walk and never made a play for Max Scherzer. Each of those players would’ve only cost the Yankees money and now the club finds itself in a bind where they should be adding talent, but might ultimately resist the high prospect cost in this seller’s market.

Spending money to add talent isn’t the oldest trick in the Yankees’ book, but it was once the most popular. Here, it looks like management actually undersold this roster on their preseason outlook and now they have to deal with that fallout and decide whether or not giving up some of their future to take a shot at winning the World Series is worth it when it means topping the Dodgers’ offer for Price. Same old Yankees, huh?

(Photo: Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports)

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1 comment on “As trade deadline approaches, decision time for the Yankees”

Shaun P.

I’m not so sure I agree, Nick. I think the Yanks were reasonable in their offseason moves regarding pitching. Don’t forget that signing Scherzer would have cost money plus a draft pick – the one that became James Kaprielian – and letting Robertson go netted them a draft pick (which turned in Kyle Holder, so maybe this part of my argument isn’t as strong).

There was also an opportunity cost in play. Last offseason, there were 2 aces available – Lester (31 this year) and Scherzer (30 this year). This offseason, there’s Price, Cueto, Jordan Zimmerman – all younger than Lester and Scherzer – and Greinke, who I expect will definitely opt out.

I would much rather see the Yanks sign Price as a free agent – especially if he gets traded and has no draft pick attached to him – than trade something to get him now. It worked with CC in 2009. :)

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