What the Yankees Should Do at the 2015 Trade Deadline
It's June 29th. The Yankees are just a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Toronto Blue Jays are both nipping at the Yankees heels. The division has been see-sawing all season long.
As of now, the New York Yankees do not have a ball club with enough talent or depth to make a serious run at the World Series. Sure, it wouldn't be a stretch at all to seem them win the East, or nab one of the Wild Cards, but a move or two at the deadline could change the look of this Yankees squad a lot, and for the better. As of now, there's very little separating these teams. Not one of the teams is well rounded. The Blue Jays have a prolific offense, but a spotty rotation and bullpen. The Orioles have a decent offense, and a decent pitching staff, but no ace, and not an elite bullpen. The Yankees have some power, although not on the level of the Blue Jays, a couple of serviceable starters, and an elite bullpen. Tampa Bay Chris Archer, an alright bullpen, and a decent lineup, that could be in line for some regression. Boston does not matter much at this point. They could go on a tear, but it seems unlikely.
Nathan Eovaldi Strikeouts
The Starting Rotation
This is the biggest area of concern in my opinion. The Yankees team ERA is 22nd in the league, and that's counting their awesome bullpen, helping them out. Who do the Yankees have? Currently, the rotation consists of CC Sabathia, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and Masohiro Tanaka. Adam Warren is probably moving back into the bullpen, even though he has outpitched Eovaldi, Tanaka, and Sabathia so far. Anyway, the starting rotation shouldn't cause any opposing team to bat an eye. Everyone has preached patience with CC. As a Yankee fan, I have been patient. I don't blame him for any of the Yankees' struggles. I don't care that he's making $23 million dollars this year. I don't care about his lack of velocity. What I care about is his lack of progress. Sure, he could still figure it out, but he hasn't shown improvement yet. His current ERA is 5.65.
Nathan Eovaldi continues to get hit hard. If you watch a Nathan Eovaldi start, you'll realize that even though he throws absolute gas, smoke, cheddar, flames, his fastball is painfully straight. It doesn't move, and it's not uncommon to see batters hit rocket line drives off his 99 MPH heaters all throughout a start. He frequently leaves his offspeed pitches just hanging, floating, up in the zone too, and they don't break much, look nasty, or rate as nasty on Fangraphs.
Michael Pineda has been great so far. His second most recent start wasn't good, inflating his ERA to 4.25, but his xFIP is still below 3.00. As long as he's healthy, Pineda can be counted on to get people out. He's still striking guys out, he's working fairly deep into games, and he's been quite consistent. Yes, he's giving up more hits than he has in the past, but he's also posting a walk rate of 1.3/9 innings. Pineda is no cause for concern.
Adam Warren has been a blessing. If someone goes down, he's a nice security blanket for the Yanks to have. In the bullpen last year, he averaged just under a strikeout per inning, while posting an ERA under 3.00. His addition to the bullpen will give the Yankees a bullpen to rival Kansas City, so long as he pitches like he has this year.
Masahiro Tanaka is currently a huge question mark, not only because of his elbow, but now because he's been lit up his last couple starts. What the Yankees should do is shut him down, and get his elbow fixed, so that he can be the Tanaka he was last year, and still be worth that 7 year contract.
Ivan Nova just had a great first start in his return from Tommy John surgery. His fastball was right where you want it to be, but of course command is the big thing when coming back from elbow surgery. Nova is not a dependable front of the rotation guy for the Yankees, because he's never been anything more than an inconsistent middle rotation guy in the past, despite flashes of dominance.
Cole Hamels - That's the big name. Yeah, he's great, he's consistent, he strikes people out, he's durable, he's nearly injury free, he's relatively young, and with just three years left on his deal, his age shouldn't be a concern, but I don't think the Yankees should pounce on Hamels. They'd have to unload the farm. The last thing the Yankees should be doing is unloading their farm, because no matter what they add at the deadline, it's not going to turn them into World Series frontrunners. I don't see the Yankees winning a World Series this year regardless of any upgrades they make, so they should avoid Hamels, who's owed $67.5 million over the next three years, plus a potential vesting option for a fourth year at $24 million. If it doesn't vest, he has to be paid a $6 million dollar buyout. The Yankees need to get younger, and Hamels isn't a rental, so they should steer clear.
Mike Leake - I like him. I like guys who don't throw hard, and Leake often throws his fastball in the high 80s. He's not electric, but he's fun to watch on the mound, and he'd be a nice, affordable depth piece for the Yankees.
Jeff Samardzija - He would certainly be a welcome arm, but would also likely be accompanied by a high asking price. Also, with the type of season he's having right now in Chicago, I don't think he'd be the greatest trade for the Yankees to make.
Johnny Cueto - Look, let's be honest, Cueto's asking price will be astronomical. If the Yankees have enough to get him, they'd have to give up all of their top talent. He's also struggled with home runs this year. Pitchers who give up home runs are always going to be a risky bet in Yankee Stadium.
They could add an arm. You can always add an arm. But the fact of the matter is, the Yankees have arguably the second best bullpen in all of baseball, behind only the Kansas City Royals. Miller should return soon. Betances has been, and will continue to be, lights out. Adam Warren should be dependable. Chasen Shreve has been incredible for the Yanks, with a 1.76 ERA in 26 games, and over 30 innings. His FIP is under 3.00, he's been better against righties than lefties, his WHIP is under 1.00: Shreve is not due for any serious regression. Justin Wilson has pitched well overall too, but like Shreve, has pitched better against righties, despite being left handed. Wilson has been lit up by righties, with an ERA over 5.00 against them actually.
Anyway, the bullpen is fine. The Yankees should not take on a ton of money, or give up a bunch of prospects, for a bullpen arm. Yeah, it'd be great to have Paplebon, but it's not enough of a need to warrant much attention.
Jonathan Paplebon - Please don't do it. I feel like the Yankees very well could, but please don't. I'm asking nicely. It'd be such a dumb trade, because of Paplebon's price tag.
Jim Johnson - Here's an intriguing one. I have no problem here, because Johnson should be relatively cheap, and he could help them get lefties out. Yes, lefties, because Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson are actually more effective against righties, the Yankees could use a guy like Johnson, who despite being a right, is more effective against lefties.
Brad Ziegler - The Yankees made a big trade with the D-Backs last year, in which they picked up Brandon McCarthy and Martin Prado. Don't be surprised if the Yankees go for this one, seeing as Ziegler would be a great fit in Yankee Stadium, as a submarine sinkerballer.
The Yankees offense hasn't been anything special really. Yeah, they've had power, but I don't trust this offense. Sure, Gardner has been what we've come to expect from him, and he's brought back his speed, which is great. A-Rod has done exactly what I predicted he would do this year, and I do think that he'll be given a good chance to stay healthy, because Joe Girardi is going to be very careful with him. Mark Teixeira has bounced back very nicely, but of course health is always a concern with him. Brian McCann his having the type of year the Yankees are paying him to have, although his walk rate is sill pretty low, and his batting average is always going to be volatile because of the shift.
Ellsbury's return should help. Headley could be due for a bit more. Gregorius has been a bit better of late, and Stephen Drew's average should at least climb into the .200s. Beltran has to be a concern though. Tulowitzki is too expensive, but the Yankees should try to find someone who can play the outfield and first. If they can pick up a great second baseman or shortstop, that'd be good too.
Garrett Jones hasn't done quite what the Yankees expected of him, but he's been fine. Reserve outfielders like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott didn't do anything to stand out.
Ben Zobrist would be perfect. Last year the Yankees got Martin Prado at the trade deadline, and he provided a nice boost, and some nice versatility. Zobrist could do the same. It would be a great move for the Yankees, who could absolutely use his versatility. Also, unlike trading for a pure outfielder, landing Zobrist wouldn't immediately supplant Beltran. Beltran could still very well turn it around, and if they Yankees bring another legitimate outfielder aboard, things are going to get awkward.
Alexei Ramirez could be a nice move. You have to like his low strikeout rate and the fact that his glovework has been well rated in the past.
Philadelphia Phillies - They'll be looking to net some prospects for rebuilding, so just about any veteran should be available. I wouldn't mind the Yanks giving Chase Utley a shot, and he could very well be rejuvenated by a move to a contending team, especially a team like the Yankees. His bat projects very well in Yankee Stadium too. Ryan Howard could also be an option, but the Yankees have a right handed DH in A-Rod, so it wouldn't make much sense, unless the Phillies ate pretty much the entirety of Howard's contract. It's not like Howard would be likely to outperform Garrett Jones, Carlos Beltran, or Mark Teixeira either, so it'd be an odd move, but you never know.
Gerardo Parra and other outfielders - The Yankees love picking up outfielders at the deadline, like Eric Hinske, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu, Ichiro Suzuki, and the results have been mixed. A move for a mid-level outfielder wouldn't really help the team out that much though, seeing as their problem is more with the middle and left side of the infield (everyone but Teixeira).