Saturday, July 8, 2017

Make Room For The Kids

My thinking when it comes to what the Yankees should do this season seems to change at a moment's notice. One minute I'm talking about trading away Clint Frazier in a package for Gerrit Cole, and here I am today saying "make room for the kids."


For starters, I do not believe the Yankees are World Series contenders this season. I would probably be saying the opposite if that were true, but it's not. I talked about going after a Wild Card spot, but why? Unless they are true World Series contenders, instead of simply having an outside chance to win it all, why possibly destroy what they've been building for years?

Sure, guys like Jorge Mateo and Blake Rutherford are currently blocked at their respective positions and seem to be expendable, but we have no idea what the future holds for them as players or for the team itself. Perhaps in 2019 the Yankees will suffer a key injury or two and need to make a big move at the trade deadline. But if they deal away all that depth now, will they have any bargain chips left?

Like I said, this is likely to change in the coming weeks, but as of right now this is my list of the only guys that should be traded, along with my predictions of what will actually happen with them...

1. Jacoby Ellsbury 

How scary is it that Ellsbury is owed a little over $63 million from 2018 through 2020? That contract along with his below average productivity, would make him a simple salary dump by the Yankees. That's because I don't think anybody would be willing to take on half the remaining money, and even the three remaining years would be difficult to swallow.

My Prediction: Since the Yankees don't seem keen on eating very much money these days, I don't think Ellsbury is going anywhere. Nobody is going to take him and that contract without a ton of money changing hands. However, at the end of next season, when all that money comes off the books and the team likely gets under the salary cap, I really think they will sign Bryce Harper for big money and deal away Jacoby while eating a ton of the money remaining on his deal.

2. Chase Headley 

I really don't even want to talk about Headley. The Yankees are not going to get anything for a guy that's signed for another season at $13 million, has been a below average batter since he signed that four year contract, and been average in the field as well. If another team even mentions his name Brian Cashman should say "he's yours" without asking for a single thing in return.

My Prediction: Headley remains a Yankee throughout the remainder of his contract. Not because he
deserves it, but because I don't see the team trading for somebody better nor spending any more money at that position. If anything, I can see the Yankees calling up Gleyber Torres some time next season making Chase a bench piece.


3. Michael Pineda 

Pineda's early season success did not fool me one bit. In the previous two seasons he's been a below average pitcher, with a tendency to throw gems every once in a while. Those few gems don't mean enough to me to re-sign the guy. Yeah... yeah, the starting rotation is going to be a big question mark next season, but it's not like bringing Michael back will solidify it.

My Prediction: Pineda stays a Yankee. Due to the fact Mike's ERA since his first start in June is 6.14, I don't see anybody making a playoff push trading for him. Maybe... just maybe... one of them would want him as their #5 starter, but since the Yankees are unlikely to get anything of value in return they may as well hold onto him in case they simply need somebody to eat innings.

"Brace yourself, you may not like the responses you will get."

4. Brett Gardner 

Gardner has one year remaining on his contract, and I don't see him as a future part of this team beyond that. With Judge, Frazier, Fowler, Rutherford, and so many other outfielders that could fill the Yankee outfield I see little to no reason to keep Gardy. I like the guy, and all he's done for the team, but at some point we have to move on. He is set to make just $11 million next season ($2 million buyout of his 2019 option of $12.5m), making him affordable for many teams. Furthermore, Brett's hitting for more power than he ever has, can get on base at a good clip, and can still steal around 25 bases. Trading Gardy has been talked about for a long time, but it really has to happen sooner or later.

My Prediction: We say good bye to Brett. I believe the Yankees want to give Clint Frazier regular at bats in MLB this season, in order for him to be ready to start next season. With Aaron Judge in right, and Jacoby Ellsbury in center, the only way for that to happen is to open up Gardner's spot (and don't forget Aaron Hicks will return soon too). I think Clint will go to AAA once Matt Holliday returns from the DL, but will get called back up when Gardner is gone. As for teams that may be interested there are the Diamondbacks, who just put Yasmany Tomas on the 60-Day DL, but are doing well in his absence. The Cardinals outfield could use a boost. The Cubs could use some OF help as well. With the trading partner up in the air, the return would is a question.

5. Matt Holliday 

I'm sure there are many teams around the Majors that would like to add a guy that can hit 25-30 home runs while putting up a nice on-base percentage. Especially if you add to that the fact he'd only be signed through the postseason, so the acquiring team wouldn't be on the hook for any more money. I like Matt, but as I've said many times we have to focus on the future, and Holliday is not part of that. He was brought in as a one year rental, and thanks to a stacked outfield, a handful of other options at first base (not great choices, but it's not like Holliday is anything special there anyway), and an open DH slot that would allow Girardi to give half days off to guys like Judge, Sanchez, and others, the Yankees need to see what they can get here.

My Prediction: Holliday is traded. The team that sticks out the most to me here is the Royals. Kansas City has gotten the worst production from the DH spot this season. But I'm not really sure what they'd get in return. Perhaps the Royals would part with Jake Junis, their #5 prospect (according to MLB.com), who has already started a handful of games in the Majors, and could be a starter for the Yanks for years to come. Of course, that would mean packaging Holliday with a good prospect, but that's okay with me. Assuming that package doesn't include a top 10 prospect.

6. CC Sabathia 

In six starts before going on the disabled list CC had an ERA of 0.99 with a K:BB ratio of 5:1. There are few teams in all of baseball that wouldn't want a part of that. Will he continue pitching that well? Of course not, but the CC Sabathia of today is not the same CC Sabathia that threw for us from 2013-2015. His ERA so far this year (3.81) is only ten points lower than what he did in all of last season, making Sabathia a good bet to help a contender.

My Prediction: Sabathia will be wearing a different uniform in August. It's no secret that the Yankees need help in the bullpen, and I think this is where they can get it. I really don't know any obvious trade partners here, but a couple of teams stick out. The Houston Astros could use another good starter to fill out their rotation, and they may very well have the best bullpen in baseball. The Cleveland Indians also have a great bullpen, while only two of the six pitchers to have started ten or more games this season have an ERA below 5.24. 

Okay, it's not Bob some may think I'm forgetting, but I wanted to use this pic of a very funny movie.

Since there are likely some people wondering why I didn't include Masahiro Tanaka on this list, I'll explain why.

Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and (assuming my trade above happens) Jake Junis. That's three starters for five spots. Now, I can see the Yankees giving Chance Adams a rotation spot on Opening Day 2018, too. But that still leaves the team needing one more starter. I don't like the fact that out of those four guys Luis Severino is the most dependable starter. Not that I don't like Sevy, I'm just not comfortable with him being the team's #1. Looking at the probable free agents after this season, and not wanting to deal away top prospects, I think 'Hiro is the Yankees' best bet to round things out.

Could the Yankees gamble on trading Tanaka, him opting out, and re-signing him in the offseason? Sure they could. But 1. I'm not a betting man, and 2. trading Tanaka would likely mean getting prospects in return and I think we're just fine in that department.

As bad as the Yankees played in June, I'm still excited about this season, and very excited about the future. I get so much pleasure watching every Aaron Judge at bat, and smile often thanks to other youngsters such as Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, and Jordan Montgomery. Even their soon to be "veterans", like Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius, are not what anybody would call "old".

I came into this season expecting a 3rd of 4th place finish in the division. Playoffs? I would have laughed out loud before the season. So it's hard to see them making a postseason push but having to put on the breaks when it comes to going all in. This season, along with next season, is about building a dynasty. If we can do that, and win some games, it would be so awesome.

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