The Yankees might not be shaping up to be your classic trade deadline buyers this time around, with their uneven play, very fine offense without Judge Aaron and a sideline seat in the playoffs, at least for now.
But with the bounties of big players like Judge and Gerrit Cole running like sand through a pinstriped hourglass, you can’t necessarily count the Yankees either. No one stays young forever, after all, and they can’t lose such mega-talents, especially if Judge returns from injury.
With that in mind, here are some suggested target areas — and potential solutions — if the Yankees are indeed looking to upgrade rather than sell before the Aug. 1 deadline. The Yanks, at 52-47, have needs in multiple departments.
They should have gotten a left fielder before the season even started, so let’s start there.
Derek Jeter wants them to go after Juan Soto. Who are we to argue with the Captain? But that seems either unrealistic or too expensive. There may be other options, however, including a controllable former prospect, Dylan Carlson of the St. Louis Cardinals, who can play all three outfield spots.
Carlson’s role is likely to be reduced with Tyler O’Neillis back in the lineup, but he’s only 24 and has three years left in control of the club. He has .699 OPS right now, but two years ago he recorded .780 OPS and 18 home runs. Maybe the Yanks can bet on further development here.
Cody Bellinger could be a good pick amid a rebounding season with the Chicago Cubs (.913 OPS, 13 home runs) after three years lost to the 2019 NL MVP award. His left swing would look great at Yankee Stadium and he homered to right field there when the Cubs were in town a few weeks ago.
Randal Grichuk of the Colorado Rockies offers proven pop — he has five 20-plus homer seasons, including 31 in 2019 — and the 31-year-old is in the final year of his contract. After missing the start of the game, he has .831 OPS and five homers in 56 games. What would you say Tommy Pham dishes ? The Mets are unlikely to want to help their Crosstown rivals, but if they sell, moving Pham makes sense.
With Jose Trevino Heading for season-ending wrist surgery, the Yankees might be tempted to go behind the plate. Right away, Kyle Higashioka and call Ben Rortvedt are their tandem. But wouldn’t it be fun if they chased the Kansas City Royals backstop Salvador Perez, eight-time All-Star? OK, maybe that’s far-fetched, since Perez owes $44 million over the next two years. Would be Tucker Barnhart of the Cubs be an upgrade? He’s a two-time Gold Glover who wore No. 15 when he was on the Detroit Tigers because Thurman Munson was his father’s favorite player. Points for the narrative there.
Other options may include Omar Narvaez of the Mets, who no longer has any starting potential there because of Francisco Alvarez‘s escape. Yasmani Grandal Chicago White Sox and Austin Hedges of the Pittsburgh Pirates would both be rentals. Pittsburgh, it seems, only uses capture perspective Henry Davis in the outfield right now to take advantage of his bat – Davis became the first to homer twice on Friday Shohei Ohtani in the same game. Maybe that means they’ll continue with Hedges behind home plate.
Speaking of better prospects, Joey Bart was once the No. 2 draft pick of the San Francisco Giants, but he never quite grabbed the gig there and apparently got passed the depth chart by Patrick Bailey. Could 26-year-old Bart be available and then fulfill his promise in the Bronx?
The Yanks should theoretically have a nice rotation. But Cole is the only starter to have a good year. Take away his stats and the Yankees’ starters have a 4.88 ERA, which would rank them 26th in baseball, a district mostly populated by teams with no playoff hopes. So maybe they need to add a starter to the group which is now Cole, Carlos Rodon, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German And Luis Severino.
First of all, of course, Ohtani should be a target, if the most incredible player in baseball history even comes on the market. It’s a two-in-one acquisition, obviously. Beyond that dream, the White Sox can flood the market with starters. Lance Lynn And Lucas Giolito will be future free agents. Dylan Quitfinalist for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award, would be the most expensive, given that he is under the control of the club for two seasons after this one.
Other post-season free agents include Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals, although he has only pitched 54 games since his breakthrough in 2019 and Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres. Eduardo Rodriguez of the Tigers can opt out of his contract after the season, so maybe Detroit could look to move him.
The Yankees have done a great job of developing useful back-up weapons in recent years. If they exploit that area of the organization to make trades and decide they need to fill out the bullpen, maybe Kansas City Scott Barlow could serve. His numbers aren’t spectacular (4.89 ERA), but his previous two seasons have been solid and he’s in control for 2024 as well.