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How should the Yankees approach the trade deadline? | BP Mailbag

Although baseball’s trade deadline is still one month away, and several teams have yet to recognize themselves as either contenders or pretenders, it would be apropos for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman to begin prioritizing any needs and wants — especially with a 4-11 record in their last 15 games.

So, with that in mind, here are some fans’ questions regarding the topic. It’s been quite a while since I produced a mailbag, but let’s take a crack at it. Hopefully I can do it again.

It doesn’t appear that the Yankees’ crop of veterans is in demand. Last season’s fire sale was successful because the team had vets who were preforming at a considerably high level. This year, it’s not really the same case. Sure, moving players like Brett Gardner or Chase Headley would make room for a greater youth movement (and also save some money), but is there a market for those two? Gardner’s sudden home run power has come as a pleasant surprise, but his batting average isn’t too appealing. The same can be said about Headley’s splits, and when factoring in his slumps, defensive blunders and occasional injuries, he’s a hard sell, too.

Of the handful of veterans on the roster, Matt Holliday and CC Sabathia have the most value. Only problem is, Sabathia’s currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and Holliday is dealing with an unknown allergy/illness, which will force him to miss some time. If both guys were healthy, the Yankees would probably listen to offers, but right now, selling a few prospects for a talented piece(s) makes the most sense — especially since the Yankees are still capable of winning the AL East. Plus, the Yankees believe they can still look toward the future while moving prospects. They can’t all make the big league roster, anyway.

Let’s start with Tyler Clippard. There’s no need to beat around the bush — he’s been horrendous of late. Entering June, his ERA was at an impressive 1.64. Now, it sits at a whopping 4.70, and in his last seven appearances (4.2 innings), he’s allowed 11 runs, 10 hits, and six walks. Despite how awful he’s looked and how badly fans want his head on a platter, Clippard just isn’t this poor of a reliever. Yes, he’s moved around quite a bit in his career, but the Yankees trust his abilities, and that’s why he hasn’t been dealt or DFA’d yet. He’s more than capable of turning things around, and the only way that can be proven is by putting him in games. Sure, high-leverage situations aren’t ideal for him, but he is a professional, and by no means could Clippard be moved before he gets back into a groove. The entire bullpen is struggling — the woes aren’t all on Clippard. 

As for the status of Aaron Hicks, his oblique injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for him and the Yanks. If he was healthy, he would’ve continued to take over Jacoby Ellsbury’s spot in the outfield until he hit a huge slump. But, that’s not reality, as New York was forced to shorten Ellsbury’s rehab assignment this week. By the time Hicks is ready to return (3-4 weeks from now), he will probably split equal playing time with Ellsbury and Gardner — that is unless Ellsbury enters a massive funk of his own and loses his starting gig. Ellsbury would probably see more bench time than Gardner, though.

Although the Yankees have made it clear that they like Clint Frazier’s makeup, it’s unlikely that he’ll be considered “untouchable” by Cashman in trade offers. So yes, Frazier could be dealt in a package for a starter or reliever if the deal suits them best. Just recently, Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned how pleased he was with Frazier’s progress in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but all in all, figure that Frazier and a number of prospects are fair game.

If the Yankees truly believed that Chance Adams was ready for a big league promotion, he would’ve received the call by now. But that’s not a dig at Adams. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A this season, his numbers are flat out impressive (9-2, 1.65 ERA, 84 SO in 81.2 IP). The thing is, the Yankees want Adams to develop more. He’s only 22, and this is his first experience at the highest minor league level. New York’s starting rotation has encountered some mood swings, but for now, Adams isn’t in the cards as an additional starter or reliever. He’d probably be called up sometime in late July or early August at the earliest. But give Adams credit — he’s certainly stating his case. 

There are a number of players. For a really good arm, the Yankees will likely have to pick out of the prospect pile, which includes names like Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, Tyler Wade and Miguel Andujar, to name quite a few. However, most of the pitchers floating around in trade rumors are starters, so it’ll be difficult to find a strong bullpen piece. A couple relievers come to mind, though: White Sox’s David Robertson, Tigers’ Justin Wilson, Mets’ Addison Reed, and Athletics’ Ryan Madson.

Doubt it. Just a few weeks ago, FanRag Sports’ insider Jon Heyman reported that Girardi and Cashman would receive contract extensions if they request them after the season, and considering that the Yankees haven’t finished under the .500 mark with Girardi at the helm (whether in transition or not), there’s a slim chance that relationship comes to an end. Girardi frequently receives flack for playing by the book, but if he didn’t return to New York in 2018, it wouldn’t take him too long to find another team to manage. So no, Girardi’s future with the club isn’t dependent on specific performance targets, especially when wins are still technically gravy this year.

Once again, almost every prospect should be made available. Between adding a starter or a bullpen piece, the greater need is a starter. Here’s who should be on the Yankees’ radar. The old cliche of never having enough pitching always holds true. 

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

 

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