For the last month speculation has been rife about whether the New York Yankees would decide to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Entering the All-Star break they sat right at .500 with a record of 44-44. General Manager Brian Cashman was ready to start dealing away some of the team’s tradeable assets, but Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the front office were reluctant to do so because they wanted to see the Yankees contend again.
After losing the first two games back from the break, it now seems as though the Yankees may finally be willing to sell. According to a report today from FOX Sports’ baseball guru Ken Rosenthal, the team has decided that should things get any worse they would sell off some of their best to try to piece together a team ready to contend again in 2017.
Here’s a little more from Rosenthal thanks to FOX Sports.
That the Yankees may have just denounced themselves as ‘sellers’ might just be one of the craziest things that’s been said in the baseball landscape for quite some time. If there was one team that would make an effort to get better around this time of year, it was the bombers. After all, the last time they had a record below .500 in the second half of a season was way back in 1995.
Rosenthal tweets that outfielder Carlos Beltran and reliever Aroldis Chapman would be the two most likely to be traded, though left-hander Andrew Miller and even catcher Brian McCann could also be in the mix.
The scarcity of names listed above is a reflection of exactly where this team is. When most organisations categorise themselves as sellers, they actually have a lot of players who would net good returns. Most of these players would be having a peak year and the team could trade them because they don’t have a large financial commitment invested.
The Yankees really can’t do that though because they have too much money involved to be seriously wheeling and dealing at the deadline. The team is paying at least $15 million to seven players in 2016 and four in 2017.
One of those players making at least $15 million is Carlos Beltran, though he becomes a free agent at season’s end. Beltran was arguably the teams best player a season ago when he hit .276 with 19 homers, 34 doubles and 67 RBIs. This year he had an All-Star worthy first half as the 39-year-old averaged close to .300 and drove in 58 runs.
Beltran is about the only position player that can realistically be traded because of his favourable contract situation. The veteran of 19 major league seasons would be a handy addition to any American League lineup as a designated hitter and fifth outfielder. There’s plenty of suitors in the NL too, though they would have to live with his defensive liabilities in right field. The San Francisco Giants are one team that jump to mind as needing an outfielder with Hunter Pence sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
Aroldis Chapman is the other big name that Rosenthal has suggested could be on the move. There isn’t a baseball team in the world that wouldn’t love to have a guy like Chapman coming out for the ninth inning and throwing 100 pitch after pitch. After missing the team’s first 30 games due to a domestic violence suspension, Chapman pitched at an All-Star like level. He picked up 17 saves while holding a 2.39 ERA in 26.1 innings.
The 28-year-old hasn’t quite been as good as he has in past seasons, but the potential remains. Chapman has a career 2.19 ERA and as recently as 2015 he had that down at a 1.63 ERA to go along with a 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings average.
The Yankees acquired Chapman during the offseason for a couple of mid-level prospects, though they would like to get a little more than that in return this time around after they weathered the storm of having him miss the early part of the season, something the LA Dodgers were unwilling to do.
Andrew Miller’s name has also been thrown around, in particular being linked to a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs. He is a closer making closer’s money pitching in the eighth inning because Chapman happens to share the bullpen with him. Miller picked up 36 saves with the Yankees last year after signing a four-year, $36 million deal in the 2014-15 offseason. This season he has held a 1.37 ERA in 39.1 innings and was rewarded with the first All-Star selection of his career.
On the other hand, catcher Brian McCann has struggled at the plate since joining the Yankees for the 2014 season. Over those two and a half years, he’s slashed .235/.311/.428 while averaging 21 home runs and 69 RBIs each season. The 12 year veteran is a rock behind the dish and is one of the best catchers in the game when it comes to learning his pitching staff. If the Yankees decide to move McCann, his new organisation will be getting a really good team player who may just need a change of scenery to get the offence going again.
That the New York Yankees may now be willing to sell is quite significant for the landscape of 2016 as well as how things may play out moving forward. Once they lose some of the ageing contracts belonging to Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia over the next few years, this team will likely be a lot younger.
We’re entering into an age where Yankee teams won’t look anything like their predecessors. Gone are the days when the only thing they could do was hit home runs. Now under the leadership of Brian Cashman and other modern minds, the Yankees are moving forward by making a smart baseball decision that could pay dividends in years ahead.