Yankees trade deadline: Breaking down potential fits, needs, best targets, trade chips
Let's have a look at the Yankees as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looms
The Yankees are hellbent on 100-plus wins and are mortal locks for the postseason no matter how the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline plays out. That said, they'd love to fend off the similarly mighty Red Sox in the AL East and thus avoid having to play in the "knockout round" Wild Card Game. In order to better their chances of pulling that off, external help may be needed. Let's break it down.
As you would expect from a team that's presently playing at a 105-win pace, there aren't many glaring weaknesses. That said, rotation depth is a concern. Luis Severino has been among the best starting pitchers in all of baseball this season, and CC Sabathia continues to be effective despite advancing age. After that, though, Sonny Gray has been bad on balance, and Masahiro Tanaka has dealt with injury and ineffectiveness. Jordan Montgomery has been lost to Tommy John surgery, and plug-in Domingo German has yet to find consistency. The Triple-A rotation at the moment has some intriguing options at the moment in Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Justus Sheffield, and Chance Adams. However, for permanent fixes, the Yankees might prefer more established known quantities. Fortifying the rotation is GM Brian Cashman's obvious priority before July 31.
Best trade targets
Reports linking the Yankees to starting pitchers are legion these days, as you would expect. Now for a quick walking tour of what's out there, in alphabetical order:
Archer would require a hefty return, given that he's signed at bargain rates through 2021 (assuming both club options are exercised). He's got ace stuff and occasionally ace results, and he's durable. However, Archer hasn't posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015.
This one's obviously a long shot. While it's entirely possible and perhaps even likely that the Mets, under their new interim GM arrangement, wind up trading deGrom, a deal with the crosstown Yankees seems improbable, based on optics alone. DeGrom has been at his absolute best this season, and he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.
The Yankees have been linked to Fulmer for some time, so it would hardly be surprising to see the right-hander wind up in the Bronx. While his numbers have been trending in the wrong direction since his Rookie of the Year campaign of 2016, he's still just 25 and under team control through the 2022 season. The Yankees figure to contend for the foreseeable future, so a controllable arm like Fulmer fits that open-ended time frame.
Hamels is of course the established veteran with generally impressive postseason credentials. At age 34, the lefty is in decline, but he's still capable of preventing runs at an above-average clip. He's also enjoyed a bit of a rebound this season in terms of his strikeout capabilities. Hamels' contract includes a team option for 2019.
Happ, age 35, is running the best K/BB ratio of his career at present. He's also generally been on another level since spending time with Ray Searage in Pittsburgh back in 2015 and eventually becoming more sinker-heavy. He's in his walk year. Of interest to the Yankees is Happ's experience toiling in a hitter-friendly home park and against AL East competition.
Suffice it to say, this would be a headline-grabbing addition. Since Harvey washed out of Queens, though, he's looked much better. On Cincy's watch he's added velocity, tightened up his slider, and seen stronger results in terms of both run prevention and command and control.
As is the case with deGrom, the Mets probably aren't inclined to trade Thor to the Yankees based solely on the public-relations hit they'd take. That said, Cashman says he's been in contact with the Mets, so at the very least cursory discussions have taken place. Syndergaard of course has perhaps the best stuff of any starter in baseball, and the moment he boasts career ERA+ of 134 and a K/BB ratio of 5.49. He's still just 25, and he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. First, though, he's got to get clear of the strained finger ligament that's laid him up since late May.
Obviously, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar aren't going anywhere -- they're too vital to the team's success in 2018. That said, the Yankees boast a number of top-100 overall prospects who aren't necessarily to their hopes this season. Pitches Sheffield, Chance Adams, and Albert Abreu, and outfielder Clint Frazier all fit that bill. That's enough to build a blockbuster package (and not many of the names above would require a blockbuster package). While the Yankees' luxury-tax goals might get in the way, they also have the wherewithal to take on dead money as part of any deal.
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