Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Possibilities Are... Nearly... Endless.

This one goes out to Scott...

The Yankees should trade for Chris Archer.

He'd look great in pinstripes, wouldn't he?

With that said, I don't believe the Yankees will strike a deal with Tampa to acquire Archer. It's not that we wouldn't be able to put together a package of players good enough to do so, I just don't see a deal that big happening between division opponents.

I had the same thought when there was talk of Baltimore trading Manny Machado during the offseason.

Even though I highly doubt either the Rays nor Orioles will compete for the AL East crown this season, I'm sure there are teams outside of the division... heck, outside of the American League... that could put a package of players together impressive enough to deal for Archer.

So while I don't believe the Yankees and Rays will get together and make a deal involving Chris Archer, I'm 99.9% certain that before August roles around the Yankees will trade for a big-time starter.

You remember when the Yankees dealt for Sonny Gray last season? Yeah... what's to come will be bigger than that.

One name that's been throw out there a bunch of times is Cole Hamels. The club option on Hamels' contract could become guaranteed, however he'd not only have to avoid the disabled list with either shoulder or elbow trouble at the end of the season, Cole would also have to throw 252 innings as well. Yeah... that's not happening. So knowing that Texas is unlikely to be a contender in a division including the Astros and Angels, and Cole's contract ends after this season, dealing away Hamels is almost a certainty.

But if what we've seen from Brian Cashman recently holds true, he's not going to trade away good to great prospects to rent a player for half a season. Brian is going to trade for somebody as good as Cole, if not better, who is also under team control for at least another year.

Let's start by looking at a list of players that could be traded...

Gleyber Torres - Honestly, I find this unlikely. Neil Walker was only signed for one year, so Torres still has a path to MLB for next season. But keep in mind that the possibility isn't zero.

Justus Sheffield - Another unlikely option, but an option none-the-less. The guy the Yankees trade for may very well be the pitcher some envision Sheffield could become. The only difference is the guy the Yankees trade for would be a year or two ahead of Justus, and already getting it done in the big leagues.

Miguel Andujar - I can see the Yankees extending the 28 year-old Didi Gregorius for two to three more years, locking up shortstop through the 2021 season. Add Gregorius with Brandon Drury (not a free agent until after the 2021 season), Gleyber Torres, and Tyler Wade, and that doesn't leave a clear spot for Miguel to get promoted into. Plus there's another guy, but I'll talk about him in a moment.

Estevan Florial - Another player I don't believe Cashman wants to part with, as he could be the heir apparent to center field and the leadoff spot in the lineup, but a possibility still. After all, Estevan may only play part of this season above A ball. And being that far away from Major League Baseball means he's far from a sure bet.

Chance Adams and Dillon Tate - While they aren't as highly touted as Justus Sheffield, both of these guys have high value, especially thanks to them being ready to step into a MLB starting rotation this year or next. And with Sheffield and the next guy I'm going to list around, neither man seems to have a clear path to a starting gig with the Yankees.

Albert Abreu - Albert may be two to three years away from the Majors, possibly making his loss more palatable than pitchers like Adams, Sheffield, and Tate. But a team looking to compete in two to three years would love to have a pitching prospect the caliber of Abreu.

Tyler Wade - Wade has shown during Spring Training that he's ready to start at the MLB level right now. Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen, at least regularly, on Opening Day. And it may never happen with the Yankees thanks to Gregorius, Drury, Walker, and Torres. Even a spot on the bench isn't certain due to Ronald Torreyes.

Thairo Estrada - There are many people, both in the organization and it's fanbase, that would hate to see Estrada dealt away. But he's in a similar situation as Tyler Wade... he has no clear spot to be promoted into.

The only two players out of those I just listed that are likely to still be with the organization after the trade deadline are Torres and Sheffield. No... they won't be the only ones, it's just that the other six could be elsewhere.

And let's not forget that Brian Cashman may absolutely love Manny Machado (the guy I was referring to when speaking of Miguel Andujar), and has already put together a contract to offer Manny as soon as Game 7 of the World Series is over with.

The point is the Yankees can very easily put together a package of players that can't be matched. The Padres, White Sox, and Braves systems may be better, but they don't have a young core like the Yankees have with Judge, Sanchez, Bird, and Severino. Oh, and they don't have a Giancarlo Stanton, either. So, unlike the Yankees, those other teams need to keep some of the big prospects they have.

Oh... and money. Those other three teams don't have the ability to buy players like the Yankees do.

So you may be able to cross off great young pitchers from contenders like the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers. And you can probably cross off great young starters from the rest of the teams in the American League East. But it's likely that any other pitcher in Major League Baseball is in play.


So I'm not going to give you a list of targets, because the fact is that list is way too large. Just imagine a great young starter from any team not listed above, and smile because they could be on their way to the Bronx soon.

The Legend of Number 14 Lives On...

Walker, New York Yankee…

When I heard the news the Yankees had signed free agent infielder Neil Walker, I admit it did not excite me. I had thought Walker might be an infield possibility before the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks (in fact, TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen called it out as a move the Yankees should make before Drury found himself in Tampa with our favorite team). But once Drury arrived, I didn’t give it another thought.   

Credit: Pittsburgh Magazine

The reaction among the Yankees Universe has been very mixed. Countless fans feel that Walker blocks the very talented rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. I don’t look at it that way. For a one-year contract at $4 million plus incentives, this is not a marriage. It is a dinner date at McDonald’s. Walker may break camp as the starting second baseman but there’s no doubt that Gleyber Torres will be the man when he is ready. Gleyber needs the additional time at Triple A as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm. He has shown this Spring that regardless of his MLB service time clock, he would greatly benefit from the added time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Torres is going to be a star and there is nothing that Neil Walker can do about it.

Brandon Drury is the starting third baseman. With no offense to Miguel Andujar, Drury was not acquired to be a backup. The Yankees see too much potential in the player and feel that they can convert a number of those Drury doubles into home runs. The Yankees gave up two talented prospects in second baseman Nick Solak and pitcher Taylor Widener. At that price, they weren’t paying to get Drury as a part-time player. Perhaps Andujar goes to Pennsylvania and crushes Triple A pitching. There’s nothing wrong with two players fighting for one position. It’s a very good problem to have. For now, Walker’s arrival most likely means that Andujar will be joining Torres in Scranton. But like Torres, Andujar will be back.  When he proves his defensive game has caught up with his bat, only a major trade for a starting pitcher could keep Andujar from pulling on the pinstripes. Walker certainly won’t stop that from happening.

I felt and probably still feel that Tyler Wade will see significant starts at second base. Worst case, I can see him in a platoon role with Walker at the position until young Gleyber arrives to take control. Best case, he breaks camp as the starter with Walker on the bench.    

To me, the potential losers with the Walker signing are utilityman Ronald Torreyes and non-roster first baseman Adam Lind. Torreyes may make the Opening Day roster. In fact, I think it’s almost a certainty. But, when Torres and Andujar arrive in the Bronx with their minor league assignments completed, Torreyes is the potential odd man out. I thought Lind might have a chance to make the roster since the Yankees, for whatever reason, do not seem enamored with Tyler Austin. But with Walker’s ability to play first base (not to mention Drury too), Austin brings more to the team than Lind does as a right-handed first baseman (nice complement to the lefty-swinging Greg Bird) who can also play corner outfield. Lind is strictly 1B/DH. But Austin’s spot is not a given as the Yankees could opt for Billy McKinney if Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier are unable to start the season. McKinney has limited experience at first base, but the presence of Walker helps offset his inexperience. 

To make room for Walker, the Yankees designated outfielder Jake Cave for assignment and released non-roster invitee Danny Espinosa. Shortstop Kyle Holder was also re-assigned to minor league camp. I’ve always liked Cave but he was squeezed by players ahead of him like Frazier and McKinney and was feeling the heat from hard charging younger prospects. Cave was in camp with the Cincinnati Reds a couple of years ago as a Rule 5 draftee.  He opened some eyes although he proved he wasn’t quite ready for the Show. Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman is able to flip Cave for a younger prospect rather than simply letting him go for nothing. I was never excited about the addition of Espinosa. He was a decent player for the Washington Nationals a few years ago, but he wasn’t going to scare anyone with his bat. His poor reaction when the Nats acquired outfielder Adam Eaton which pushed star Trea Turner from the outfield to shortstop, displacing Espinosa, always bothered me. So, for me, I’ll gladly take Walker over Espinosa. The switch-hitter still has some pop left in his bat, and he is a very versatile dude (health-permitting).

Walker was assigned Starlin Castro’s number 14 (most recently worn by Espinosa). For me, the number is forever associated with the great “Sweet Lou" Pinella. 

Photo Credit: UPI

By now, I don’t think any Yankees fans are expecting the team to add a starting pitcher before the start of the season. My early favorites for trade deadline candidates are Chris Archer and Danny Duffy. The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been interested in Archer, so I’d probably rate Duffy as the most likely choice if he can be pried from the Kansas City Royals. Personal preference, no doubt, is Archer. The health and performance of the existing starting five will obviously dictate what the Yankees do in July. It’s early, but I’ve been impressed with young right-hander Domingo German and would like to see him become the rotation’s sixth man in place of Luis Cessa. 

Good times. I am ready for the season to start.

Go Yankees!