Thursday, July 7, 2016

Just Get It Done, Already!

This season is really wearing on me. Watching the games is too difficult, as they leave me completely unfulfilled. On the one hand, if they win, I get upset because that gives the Yankee brass another reason to not trade anybody away. On the other hand, if they lose, I get upset because I absolutely hate losing.

It's a lose-lose situation. I just wish we could get past the trade deadline, that way I can just root for the team to win... no matter what they look like.

That's not to say I won't complain should some of their current players still be around, but at least I can watch a game without getting depressed no matter what the result of it is.

Yes... I'm on Team Sell. This is a team clearly in transition (I know they hate the word "rebuild", so how about "transition"?), and in order to do things correctly they need to let go of anything and everything holding them back.

That means on and off the field. Perhaps I'll get to the "off the field" people later (although some of our commenters love to chime in on that). Right now, I want to think about those "on the field" people that I think should be traded.

Let's start with an obvious one...

Aroldis Chapman

I wouldn't be against trading away Andrew Miller, and bringing back Chapman to be the team's closer for four or so more years. The reason being that Miller would return the better player(s) for the Yankees, due to him being signed for far less than market value for two more seasons. However, it's not like the return for Aroldis would be "so-so". Besides, Miller is simply better. And for less money, the Yankees might as well go the other route.

And it's not as if there are only one or two teams with playoff hopes that would be in on Chapman. The Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, and Washington Nationals could all use a strong closer. Even the Chicago Cubs, who already have a really good closer in Hector Rondon, would surely love to add Aroldis.

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Carlos Beltran

I know Carlos has been the Yankees best hitter so far this season (by far), but that can't deter them from getting something for him. They should not even think of re-signing him after this season. Beltran is already 39 years old, which makes it a horrible bet that he'd maintain his current batting numbers. And unless we're talking about David Ortiz, no team should have a full-time designated hitter.

Along with the the effectiveness and position questions surrounding Beltran, there's the fact that the Yankees have a handful of other outfield options. As of right now, Aaron Judge should be looked at as the Yankees' starting right fielder next year. Even if they hold off on that, Rob Refsnyder has more than earned more at bats*.

*I'd like to see the team to play Refsnyder in the infield every once in a while this season, as they could look at dealing away Starlin Castro in the offseason, and start Refsnyder at second base next year.

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Jacoby Ellsbury

I don't expect the Yankees to get much in return for Ellsbury. It's not because he hasn't been a very good hitter, either. On the contrary, I think Jacoby has been pretty good. His .280 batting average is good, his on-base percentage of .348 isn't too shabby, and he's seventh in MLB in stolen bases this season.

The problem with Ellsbury is that damn contract. After this year, there will still be four years and over $84 million remaining on his deal. Nobody in their right mind would pay Jacoby $21 million a season. But if the Yankees pay part of that remaining salary, say $5 million a year, then I think there would be some interested parties.

The combination of saving around $16 million a year, along with making room to give another player such as Ben Gamel a shot in the big leagues, makes this a trade well worth looking into.

The biggest hurdle I see here for the Yankees is Ellsbury's no trade protection. Would Jacoby be willing to play for the Washington Nationals or San Francisco Giants, two teams that are in the playoff hunt year after year, and both of whom could use help at the top of the lineup and in center field? The Yankees gotta try.

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Brian McCann

When thinking of players the Yankees could trade away, chances are Brian's name isn't one of the first people think of. However, I think the Yankees have to give serious thought to dealing away their starting catcher.

The Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers all have a couple of things in common. One, they are all within 3 games of a playoff spot. Two, they have issues at the catching position.

Meanwhile, Brian McCann is tied with Wilson Ramos and Evan Gattis in home runs by catchers (to be fair, six of Gattis' home runs have come as the Astros' designated hitter). Furthermore, McCann actually ranks 8th in fWAR among the 20 catchers with at least 200 plate appearances this season.

Like Ellsbury, the Yankees would have to get McCann to waive the no trade protection in his contract. But playing for the Cardinals or Dodgers would certainly appeal to many baseball players.

This guy's not the only one that wants to play for a winner.

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For a moment I thought of including Masahiro Tanaka on this list. My initial thought was that he'd likely opt-out of his contract after next season, and there's a decent chance the Yankees will let him walk. In that case, why not see what they can get for the guy now?

But where would that leave the rotation? I'll give you a hint... it's not a pretty place. Other than CC Sabathia, the Yankees have no starting pitcher that they can rely on. And to be honest, every time he steps on the mound, I hold my breath waiting for reality to knock him back to 2013-2015 CC Sabathia.

This leads me to my next point, which very likely takes care of the dumbfounded looks from some of you due to their exclusion from the above list of players.

Do not trade either Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi.

I can't remember for sure, and I'm way too lazy to go back and look, but there's a good chance I've lobbied for the Yankees to do the opposite with those two. But at least for now, the Yankees should hold onto anybody that could possibly fill a rotation spot in the future .

Let's look at some current Yankees starters...
  • As I mentioned earlier, Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his deal after next season, and while I've said the Yankees should bring him back, letting him walk is certainly an option. 
  • CC Sabathia has turned a page, but I just can't see him pitching well enough that he's re-signed when his contract is up after next season.
  • Luis Severino is doing well in AAA, but not so well that I'm convinced he can re-enter the Yankees' rotation next year and be counted on every five days. 
  • James Kaprielian looked like a shoe-in for the big league rotation as soon as next season, but elbow injuries are always concerning.
  • Ivan Nova is a free agent after this season, and he's given us no reason to believe the Yankees would want to bring him back. 
So trading away two under-30 pitchers, both of whom have the raw talent to be good to great starters, is a bad idea. It's true that they've both had plenty of time for that raw talent to turn into something tangible, but unless one a trade is made for at least one more future starter, what else can they do?

Contrary to what some people around here believe, I'm not naive. Yes, I'm well aware that there are 17 teams within three games of a playoff berth (18 if you count the Seattle Mariners, who are only 3.5 games out). That means that even a decent starting pitcher would attract some level of trade interest.

But keep in mind that the Yankees would not get back a prospect of the same caliber Jesus Montero was when he was traded away, nor would they get a Major Leaguer as good as Martin Prado was. Trading Pineda or Eovaldi would likely get the Yankees an "okay" prospect or two, and the fact is those pitchers are simply more valuable to the team wearing pinstripes.

I'm sure at least some of you remember this.

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So there you go. Are all of those things I listed off going to happen? No. Are most of them going to happen? Probably not. Will any of them happen? I think there's a decent chance. And in about three weeks time we're going to find out. 

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