The Yankees will have no choice but to acclimate to life without sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for at least a month. And although there’s never a good time to lose a pair of reliable power threats — especially in the same week — the team should be able to weather this storm until late August. New York’s depth and favorable matchups against teams with losing records in the coming weeks suggest that’s a fair assumption.
While Judge recovers from a chip fracture in his right wrist and Sanchez rehabs his re-aggravated groin injury, rookie utility man Tyler Wade will rejoin the big league club and serve as a fourth outfielder, according to multiple reports. But if the Yankees aren’t too comfortable with their internal options for the time being, general manager Brian Cashman still has a few days to scour the trade market and possibly obtain an additional hitter with some pop.
So, who could the Yankees pursue, exactly? And how would they maintain their major league-leading home run pace in the process?
Nationals’ Bryce Harper: Talk about outside-the-box. Since the Nationals are a middling 51-51 and seven games back of first place in a suddenly competitive NL East race, multiple reports have listed Washington as a potential seller at the deadline. And even though it sounds ridiculous for the franchise to move its coveted talent in Bryce Harper, the argument is more than valid. Since the 25-year-old outfielder will become a free agent this upcoming winter, it’s unclear if he’ll return to D.C. in 2019. After all, the signs point toward the Yankees proposing some sort of offer to Harper once this season ends. So, should the Nationals choose to surrender and pull the plug on 2018, trading a two-month rental in Harper for a decent package in return would be wise baseball decision.
But what would this decent package look like? Figure Washington will want at least one Top-10 prospect in a deal, even though Harper hasn’t resembled a superstar this year (career-low .216 average in 100 games). Would the Yankees be open to moving more youngsters for a player who isn’t under contract for much longer? Probably not. Most likely not. This is why Harper’s trade candidacy is just an interesting conversation for playoff contenders. Despite the Nationals’ record, the odds of them waving the white flag — and moving Harper — seem slim.
Royals’ Mike Moustakas: The lowly Royals should sell of their uncontrollable assets, and 29-year-old third baseman Mike Moustakas is one of them. A few weeks ago, the Yankees were listed as a team reportedly in the mix for Moustakas. So, why not pounce? Right now, Moustakas to the Bronx makes plenty of sense. With his power from the left side, he can serve as the Yankees’ designated hitter, while Giancarlo Stanton takes Judge’s spot in right field. Moustakas’ batting average isn’t great (.249) but he’s managed to hit 20 homers and drive in 62 runs in a mediocre Royals lineup. Plus, he can play the hot corner, which could allow Miguel Andujar to see some more games at DH as well. Moustakes didn’t seem like a good fit in early July, but things have changed. He could be quite useful.
Giants’ Andrew McCutchen: The Giants are sort of in the same boat as Washington, as they’re 52-52 and treading water in the NL West standings. Although San Francisco tried to upgrade its roster last winter, veteran outfielder Andew McCutchen has struggled at the plate since coming over in a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 100 games this year, the 2013 NL MVP is hitting .257 with 10 homers and 43 RBI. The Giants may not want to sell, but McCutchen is another player who may be on the move, since the 31-year-old is also eligible for free ageny in 2019. It wouldn’t cost the Yankees a dime to make a phone call.
Cardinals’ Jose Martinez: It’s never smart to count the Cardinals out in July. But the NL Central standings are tight, and the Brewers and Cubs are undoubtedly stronger than St. Louis. So, would they look to sell this week? And if so, could they part ways with outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez? At a glance, the answer would probably be no, since he’s arbitration eligible until 2020 and under control until 2023. However, Martinez isn’t young — he just turned 30 and spent a decade in the minors before making his major league debut in 2016. Perhaps it makes sense for the Cardinals to trade Martinez now, based on his above-average numbers (.295 BA, 13 HR, 57 RBI in 95 games) and age. His control is appealing, but is his age? Could be a turn-off for the Yankees and other teams. It’s a pickle for St. Louis.
Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo: The Texas Rangers traded left-handed starter Cole Hamels to the Cubs on Friday, so could veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo be the next player to leave Arlington for a contender? 2018 has been a year to remember for Choo. He appeared in his first-career All-Star game this July, and his .286 average, 18 homers, 45 RBI, and 52-game on-base streak have made him a household-ish name once again. But the odds of the Yankees trading for Choo are slim to none. It would actually be foolish of them to even ask. Choo’s owed a total of $20 million this season, and $62 million from 2019 until 2021 (very similar to Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract). It’ll be tough for Texas to convince a contender to take on that money.
Orioles’ Adam Jones: The Yankees’ recent trade for left-handed reliever for Zach Britton proves that the Orioles have no issues trading within the division. So, shouldn’t the Yankees inquire Baltimore about veteran outfielder Adam Jones? The 32-year-old is hitting .277 with 10 homers and 38 RBI in 97 games. Jones has managed to stay healthy, plus he’s a seasoned and reliable leader on and off the field. Another two-month rental who likely wouldn’t cost the Yankees much.