The July 31st 2017 trade dead-line is rapidly approaching. With exactly one week to go, the Yankees are five games over .500 at 51-46. They are in 2nd place in the AL East, 2 1/2 games behind the division leading Boston Red Sox, and 1 game ahead of the 3rd place TB Rays. If the season ended today the Yankees would be the 1st WC team.
Where does that leave Yankee management in their approach to improve the team for the stretch drive? We have heard the term “careful buyers” used by GM Brian Cashman in early July when asked how aggressive he would be at the dead-line. They made a significant trade on July 18, obtaining Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle & David Robertson from the White Sox for Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard.
THE ONE(S) THAT GOT AWAY :
It’s not a surprise that the trade partner was the Chicago south-siders. The Yankees biggest need has been, and still is, a starting pitcher. They were in on Jose Quintana for months. They were willing to trade top prospect Blake Rutherford to the White Sox as part of a package to bring back Quintana. Unfortunately the team that plays on the north side of Chicago outbid the Yanks for the 28 year old lefty. There is a degree of irony to the whole NY/CWS trade talks. The main targets in the two trade talks were Quintana in the deal that didn’t happen, and Tommy Kahnle in the deal that was completed. Both targets were previously members of the NY Yankee organization, and left off the 40-man roster where they were lost to minor league free agency / Rule 5 Draft. Now the Yankees find themselves in a curious position. Is there any other starting pitcher that is a premiere starter with a team-friendly contract ? A pitcher who not only gives you the ability to “go for it” in 2017, but also someone who will take the ball every five days and lead the staff in ’18, ’19 & ’20 ? In my opinion … no. Jose Quintana has proven to be durable, throwing 200+ innings every season for the past four seasons.
GRAY AREA :
The name we keep hearing is Sonny Gray. Is he durable enough to think long term? Is he a real difference-maker in 2017 ? Is he worth a top prospect … especially now that the Yanks have traded Rutherford their #3 prospect ? I would say no. For that reason I would have been willing to give more for Quintana than the Yankees offered. At this point, if Oakland would take Jorge Mateo & a mid-level prospect, I would make that deal. On the plus-side, the 5’10” 190 lb. 27 year old righty, has a 1.96 ERA in July. On the minus-side, Sonny has been on the DL too often over the last 2 years. Also, the Oakland Coliseum is a pitcher friendly stadium. At home this year he is 5-2 w/ 3.08 ERA. On the road 1-2 w 4.85 ERA.
YU GOT THAT RIGHT:
If Yu Darvish were to be made available by the Texas Rangers, he would be perfect for the Yankees short term needs. He is a top of the rotation ace who absolutely could put a number of teams over the top if they acquired him. But he is a Free Agent at the end of the year. He is a rental player for 2 months plus the post-season (hopefully). The Yankees right now are not a shoo-in to make the playoffs, plus they traded their #3 prospect, and in my opinion,#1 & #2 prospects Torres and Frazier are too steep a price for either to be traded for a rental player. The Yankees understand that they desperately need a quality starter to make the post-season and compete for a title. They also want to be “careful buyers”. They are in a real .. gray area.
GO NYY !!