By Chad Jennings
New York Yankees’ Carlos Beltran, left, gets a high five from Alex Rodriguez following his two-run home run off Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Dean in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 17, 2016, in Minneapolis.
Baseball’s trade deadline is two weeks away, which means the Yankees are running out of time to hem and haw.
Here’s what general manager Brian Cashman said in a Friday radio interview coming out of the All-Star break:
“We will either springboard off of what we did in Cleveland where we took three out of four and continue that roll, or we could hurt ourselves by stubbing our toe out of the gate in the second half. And either way that could give us some clarification on what we are. And in my job, I’m having both conversations. That’s part of my job responsibilities, to be prepared the worst case scenario happens, but also I’ve been trying to add. And that’s not just the recent side of it. We’ve been trying to add since May onto areas that are of need.”
To use Cashman’s term, the Yankees mostly stubbed their toe this weekend against the Red Sox.
That said, the Yankees have yet to declare themselves sellers. If anything, they’ve postured as if they’re buyers while floating the idea of doing something in between.
This year’s deadline is August 1 — moved from July 31 to avoid the deadline falling on a Sunday — which means the Yankees have exactly two weeks to made a decision one way or the other. They have plenty of tradeable assets, but as always, it making a deal requires finding a partner willing to give up something of value.
Here are 10 names to keep in mind:
- Sales pitch: The Yankees could easily market Chapman as the best closer available; a true difference maker for any bullpen.
- Contract: Chapman is a free agent at the end of this year, making him an obvious trade candidate.
- Market: Many contenders including the Nationals, Cubs and Rangers are regularly linked to bullpen help. This winter, the Yankees got him at something of a discount because of a domestic abuse investigation.
- Will it happen? This is the most obvious trade chip on the Yankees’ roster. Contending teams are always in the market for relievers, and Chapman is a proven ninth-inning option. For the Yankees, there’s little reason to keep him if they aren’t convinced they can make a playoff run. He would, at best, bring back a draft pick next year. Might as well trade him and hope for a single prospect better than any the Yankees gave up to acquire Chapman this winter. Chapman does come with off-the-field baggage, though, and might not appeal to every team and every market.
- Sale pitch: Because of his tremendous offensive production, the Yankees could certainly sell Beltran as a middle-of-the-order slugger who can play right field. It helps that he’s been a terrific postseason player.
- Contract: Beltran is a free agent at the end of this year. The idea of giving him a qualifying offer is at least somewhat complicated by his age and concerns about his ability to keep playing the field.
- Market: Defensive concerns and the presence of other offensive-minded outfielders might limit Beltran’s market. The Blue Jays have reportedly discussed the idea of trying to get him. A limited no-trade clause could be a factor.
- Will it happen? Certainly seems possible, but I could also imagine the Yankees putting Beltran’s name on the market and finding the potential return to be fairly underwhelming. Trading Beltran would be a pure “sell” move to rob the Yankees of by far their best hitter. That might be a tough pill for ownership to swallow. They could trade Chapman and still feel good about the ninth inning. Hard to trade Beltran and still feel remotely good about the middle of the order.
- Sales pitch: A 26-year-old starting pitcher with another year of team control and a fastball that reaches 100 mph.
- Contract: Eovaldi still has one more year of arbitration eligibility, which means he would be more than a one-year rental.
- Market: He was so bad before the break that the Yankees moved him temporarily into the bullpen, but starting pitchers have become overwhelmingly valuable and hard to acquire. Most recently, the Pirates have been linked to Eovaldi.
- Will it happen? Could depend entirely on what the Yankees can get in return. The high cost of starting pitching is a double-edged sword. It gives Eovaldi value on the market, but also makes him difficult to replace (especially considering the upside if he ever finds consistency). Trading Eovaldi could open a door for either Chad Green or Luis Severino to step back into the big league rotation, but is either one of those a more reliable option for next year?
- Sales pitch: A 27-year-old starting pitcher with another year of team control who had a terrific month of June.
- Contract: Still has another year of abritation eligibility, which means he would be more than a one-year rental.
- Market: Very similar to Eovaldi, for better and for worse. Pineda has perhaps had a slightly better season, and it’s basically a toss up whether a team would or should prefer him or Eovaldi. His value is tied to the fact he’s a starting pitcher with a strong arm. The only reason to trade him is that he hasn’t been consistent enough to live up to his potential.
- Will it happen? Essentially, Pineda and Eovaldi are on and the same. At least, that’s more or less the way the Yankees have to look at them going forward. Keeping either one of them would mean betting on his ability to put some things together and actually deliver a strong season out of the rotation. Trading either one would require cutting losses and taking advantage of a seller’s market when it comes to starting pitching. Could see the Yankees trading either Eovaldi or Pineda, but perhaps not both.
- Sales pitch: Even though he’s not a closer, the Yankees could market Miller as perhaps the game’s best reliever signed to a relatively affordable contract.
- Contract: Miller’s deal runs through two more seasons at $9 million per year. He turned 31 in May.
- Market: Hard to say whether Miller is truly available, but it’s safe to say anyone is available at the right price. The Rangers have specifically been linked to Miller in recent days, but the Cubs and Nationals have also been mentioned in the past. If Miller’s on the market, almost any contending team would surely be interested in at least a conversation.
- Will it happen? My guess is that it won’t. Not that the Yankees wouldn’t be open to the idea, but they’re surely going to expect contention again next season, and Miller would make them better in 2017 and 2018. This level of pitcher with this kind of contract would require a significant prospect return. Maybe that market exists, but it would make sense for the Yankees to enter any Miller trade conversation looking for a true can’t-pass-it-up offer.
- Sales pitch: Buy low opportunity for a Gold Glove first baseman who just might deliver a bunch of home runs down the stretch.
- Contract: Teixeira is in the final year of his contract, and his poor performance might have wiped out any chance of a qualifying offer, which means the Yankees best chance to get something in return might be a deadline deal. He does have full no-trade protection.
- Market: Hard to say whether there’s any market for Teixeira. A team would really have to roll the dice and bank on a significant resurgence down the stretch. A repeat of the past three months surely has no trade value.
- Will it happen? Teixeira strikes me as a guy who could clear waivers and become a trade candidate beyond the non-waiver deadline. The Yankees might not find a taker before the end of this month, but if he come back from his current foot injury and delivers a burst of home runs, a market could emerge later in the season. For right now, he’s not healthy enough or productive enough to think the Yankees could get anything meaningful in return.
- Sales pitch: A healthy starting pitcher who’s best stretches have been very good; a rotation gamble for a team in desperate need of a starter.
- Contract: Nova will be a free agent at the end of this season. He’s 29 and making a little more than $4 million this year.
- Market: The only reason there might be a market is because plenty of teams need rotation help, even if that help comes in the form of a depth option who’s been inconsistent. The fact he’s about to be a free agent is the best reason for the Yankees to try to get something in return.
- Will it happen? In the past, Nova’s name has surfaced in a few trade rumors. In fact, he was a popular part of the rumor mill this offseason. But Nova’s inconsistency is a problem both for the Yankees and for their potential to trade him. If the Yankees can actually get something decent in return, there’s surely little reason to keep Nova at this point. Can they actually get anything, though? Maybe not.
- Sales pitch: A legitimate starting pitcher and leadoff hitter signed to a reasonable contract.
- Contract: Gardner is in the second year of a four-year, $52-million deal, which seems like a bargain compared to Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.
- Market: This winter, Gardner’s name was often mentioned in trade rumors. That hasn’t been the case this season, but if the Yankees decide to really sell at the deadline, Gardner could be a viable candidate because the Yankees have other in-house options who could replace him in left field.
- Will it happen? Trading Gardner might be more difficult for the Yankees than it seems. He’s been one of the farm system’s greatest success stories of the past two decades, and his contract is pretty affordable (he would probably get more on the open market). The Yankees like Gardner, and he’s delivered their highest on-base percentage this season. There’s really no indication that the Yankees are actively shopping Gardner, or that teams are actively trying to get him.
- Sales pitch: A cheap catcher with three more years of team control having a nice year, especially against lefties.
- Contract: Hasn’t even reached arbitration eligibility yet, meaning teams would be acquiring multiple years of control.
- Market: Romine’s name is not often floated as a trade chip, and there’s no real indication that the Yankees are shopping him or even remotely interested in trading him. I’m mentioning him because the Yankees have traded away a backup catcher each of the past three offseasons, so they’re more than willing to cut ties. Romine’s raised his value, Gary Sanchez is waiting in the wings, and Kyle Higashioka has emerged as another bit of catching depth.
- Will it happen? Probably not. But trading Romine does seem like the kind of thing that might fit a buy-and-sell approach to the deadline. Replacing Romine with Sanchez could be an upgrade in the short-term while also bringing back a different sort of talent (perhaps a different big league player or a mid-level prospect to supplement the system). Probably wouldn’t get much in return, but catching is thin, especially in the American League.
- Sales pitch: A versatile outfielder with good Triple-A numbers who’s ready to step onto a big league roster.
- Contract: He’s not even on the 40-man roster, so Cave would come with plenty of team control.
- Market: This would be more of a buy move for the Yankees. He’s the kind of on-the-verge player that selling teams often look for in a deadline deal, and the Yankees have enough left-handed outfield redundancy to trade him.
- Will it happen? Really, Cave is kind of a stand-in representing several left-handed outfielders in the Yankees’ system. Ben Gamel, Mason Williams and Dustin Fowler are vaguely similar players, and the Yankees already have Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the big leagues. Last year the Yankees traded away a similar redundancy by including Ramon Flores in the Dustin Ackley trade. Cave’s had a nice year — so has Gamel — and it would make some sense for the Yankees to swap one of them to address a weakness elsewhere.