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Best, worst, and nightmare trade deadline scenarios

2016… That was the last time the New York Yankees entered the All-Star break with a record worse than the 46-43 record they sit at now. As we’ve seen on every broadcast ever by now, the East is pretty much out of the question. The question that we have now, that we’ll learn by the end of the month, “Are we even good enough to make the Wild Card game?” 11 of the 15 games left in the month leading up to the deadline are against the Red Sox and Rays, if there was ever a time to tell if the Yankees are frauds or not, it’s now. Basically, these games are to decide if we are buyers or sellers at the July 31st deadline. With that being said, there are three ways that this deadline could go down…

Best case scenario (Buyers)

If the Yankees can go out and post a record in the neighborhood of 10-5, it is not unreasonable to think that Cashman and friends could be looking for some reinforcements for a second half push. We haven’t seen Cash push the chips in and go for it since the Sonny Gray trade, and I think we all remember how that turned out.

For those of you who just became a Yankee fan in 2019 and beyond, the Yankees traded James Kaprielian (former first rounder), Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler for one of the biggest disappointments in recent Yankee history. While only Kaprielian is performing now, all three were big time prospects that have certainly made Cashman a little gun shy in recent deadlines.

Biggest needs

Left Field | -1.9 WAR (30th MLB)
Center Field | -1.0 WAR (26th MLB)
Starting Pitching | Outside of Cole, not much dependability.

Realistic targets and solutions

Joey Gallo

It is no crazy secret that the Yankees have approximately ZERO (0) left handed production. Sadly, Brett Gardner is not the solution. Poor guy, all the Yankees are doing with him is ruining his good will with Yankee fans. Outside of Gardner, the only other option we have is Odor – also not exactly a Hall of Famer. As great of a hype man as he may be, slashing .218/.291/.424 is not going to get it done as an every day player.

Despite disappointing in the much anticipated Coors Homerun Derby, Gallo is one of the games premier power hitters. Enter Brian Cashman. If there is one thing that this man knows and loves, it’s a damn power hitter. The difference here is that Gallo is actually left handed and can utilize the short porch. Yes, he is going to strikeout a lot and frustrate us as fans. No, he’s not going to hit .300.  What he IS going to do though, is provide us with gold glove caliber defense, and hit some flashy homeruns. The defense is honestly what sells me. As big of a Miggy Andujar fan as I am, I would much rather have Gallo’s glove out there on a daily basis.

Oh hey, and he doesn’t hit free agency until 2023.

Kyle Hendricks

Gerrit Cole is an absolute monster. He is everything we could’ve asked for and more. Spyder tack aside, the dude’s baseball IQ is just astronomical. Cole is simply just too smart and too dedicated to his craft to let that hinder his whole career – see last start against the Astros.

Beyond our beloved King, though, our rotation is questionable at best. This is where Kyle Hendricks comes in. The Cubs are fresh off of losing 11 straight games and are clearly sellers. Hendricks has been flying around the rumor mill for 2 or 3 years now and it’s honestly time for Cashman to pull the trigger. All of his expected stats suggest that he should not be a good pitcher, but he just keeps doing it. In part, due to his ground ball percentage. Hendricks GB% is 40.7%, meaning that nearly half of the batters he faces put the ball on the ground. Yankee Stadium is one of the smaller ball parks in the league. If we all team up and put two and two together here, we can all arrive at the conclusion that ground ball = good in this park.

Beyond that, Hendricks has done it on the biggest stage. He’s started 12 games in his career in the postseason and has pitched to a 3.12 ERA. That includes the 2016 World Series, where he shut down the Indians. (Hint: that could be a potential postseason matchup)

Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo

While we’re on the subject of the Cubbies, why not go after a former MVP or a nice lefty bat?

Kris Bryant has officially rebounded after a few years marred with injury and disappointment. Chicago’s golden boy has been severely mistreated by his home team after racking up so many accomplishments. With them selling, and Bryant’s contract expiring, it’s worth asking if he even wants to be there anymore.

What Bryant brings to the Yankees is an experienced bat that can play multiple defensive positions (i.e. left field) well.

Now imagine slotting that .849 OPS in left instead of Locastro or Andujar. Pretty exciting right? The only knock on Bryant is that he is not a lefty, which, leads us to his best friend and teammate Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo is a little tougher to imagine, seeing as he is a bit older and the yankees have a fan favorite in Voit. However, if Voit were to be packaged in a deal elsewhere to acquire a starting pitcher, we would need a replacement NOT named Jay Bruce. Rizzo is slashing a modest .247/.342/.429 which are all well below his career marks but still, not bad. One thing that stands out to me is his ability to get on base and limit the K’s. The 2021 Yankees are not exactly the epitome of extending ABs and getting on base, having this kind of veteran approach in the lineup could pay dividends in a postseason series.

Jose Berrios

Berrios is a splashier move that could be what the Yankees need to jumpstart a flailing rotation. If acquired, he would slide comfortably into the 2 starter role until either Kluber or Sevy came back. While not a bonafide superstar, he’s been a consistently good starter over his career and is still at the beginning of his prime.

The only rebuttal i’ve seen to this is the notion that “he’s not that good, we’ll pay too much”. What is too much though? We’ve been waiting on the combo of Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia to pan out and be a rotation piece for years now. Garcia is regressing, and Clarke can’t stay healthy. A Jose Berrios type pitcher – a mid 3s ERA, innings eater – could be exactly what we need to get rolling again.

Starling Marte

Barring an extension, Marte WILL be on the trading block. If he reaches that point, Marte should be options A, B, and C as far as trading goes. Need a new center fielder? How does 2 gold gloves, 5th in active stolen bases and a career 115 OPS+ work for you? Minus being a lefty, Marte fills every one of the offenses biggest holes in one swoop. By getting a guy like this, you immediately have a top of the order bat to get on base and break up the power guys. Every fly ball to the outfield is no longer a sweat-filled, eyes-closed, stress watch.

The Yankees DESPERATELY need to get more athletic and dynamic on offense. Marte adds a level to their game that has not been seen in a while. This move kind of reminds me of the 2018 acquisition of McCutchen – just multiplied by 5.

When was the last time we saw a Yankee name in a tweet like this?

Bryan Reynolds

A lot less sexy of a name, but this could be a massive addition to the team. Reynolds is a switch hitter which fills a hole right off the jump. Moreover, he’s currently enjoying a career year with a 147 OPS+ and an OBP near .400. Much like Marte, this is a name that could slot into the top half of the order immediately and produce. Beyond that, he plays the position that we lack the most, center field.

Honestly, the more I look at Reynolds, the more I’m talking myself into it. Reynolds is still only 26 and under contract for a few more years, this move could solve the Hick’s issue for a long time if he were to pan out. The only problem with a guy that young, that good, and that controllable? Price. I don’t know if Cashman will be willing to part with the pieces necessary to acquire a guy like Reynolds. Surely this would command a huge return. With the money committed to Hicks, and a farm loaded with OF talent, I find this one hard to buy.

Other names (either with less traction or less likely)

Trevor Story – Price. I don’t see that happening.
Max Scherzer – Surging in the division and price.
Adam Frazier – No clear fit.
Craig Kimbrell – High payroll cost for reliever.
Ketel Marte – Potential extension candidate.
German Marquez/Jon Gray – Potential extension candidate.

Bottom Line

In order for this to truly become the best case scenario, Cashman would actually have to grow a pair and pull off multiple high value trades. The problems of this team run deep, way deeper than just adding one piece could solve. It would take at least one starter and a quality outfielder to make me believe in this team going forward.

If this is truly the core that you want to run with, the expectation this deadline should be a combo of at least one of the highlighted pitchers and probably a Marte or Reynolds type hitter.

For the trade Gleyber and acquire Story camp, this starts with the Cubs. If there was ever a team to buy low on him, it would be the team that developed him. This is where Hendricks comes into play especially. Whatever the case may be, some high name players are going to be leaving if the best case scenario happens. This is just something that we have to live with. As things sit on July 15th, this current group is a fringe Wild Card team at best.

Worst case scenario (Sellers)

Like I said before, the rest of the month leading up to the deadline is daunting to say the least. There is a very real possibility that the Yankees could fall well under .500 by the end of the month. If this is the case, it’s time to follow suit of the 2016 Yankees who were the last in the position – sell, sell, sell.

A full on rebuild is not necessary with the core group that is currently there. I don’t think there is a point in ditching Judge, Gleyber, DJ, etc. for below market value just to replenish the farm. What does need to be done though, is selling off some of the more sought after players that you can get true value for.

One glaring issue here. The Yankees do not have anyone of value outside of the “stars”. I guess you could ship off Green, Urshela, or Gary, but even then, what are you really going to fetch for these guys? Selling becomes the worst possible outcome for that reason. Selling for this team would be dumping salary by way of dealing guys like Chapman and Britton. One thing is for certain though, even if you can’t fetch a big return for the high-priced relievers, you absolutely have to trade what you can get value out of. In no way can you keep the same roster and expect to contend now or in the future.

An alternative route that I would like to see is that of the 2003 Red Sox. Nomar Garciapara was shipped to the Cubs that year in order to mix up the clubhouse. Much like the Yankees have been in recent years, the Sox were good, but not good enough. Fast forward to 2004, the Red Sox go on to knock out the Yankees in the ALCS and win the World Series. Maybe trading one of our household names, think maybe a Gleyber to the Cubs, is what could shake things up just enough to get the right winning combo. With that being said, I do not trust the front office to pull something off like this, making selling just downright disappointing.

Nightmare Scenario

“We like where we’re at, we didn’t feel like we needed to add because we have deadline pieces coming in off the IL in Sevy and Britton”

If I hear something like this again, my head might just actually explode on my shoulders. The absolute worst thing you can do here is stand pat. Regardless of the outcome of the next 15 games, something on this team needs to change. By doing nothing, you show the fans that you really and truly do not care about this franchise. It has been 12 years now since the last World Series. Year after year, we are guaranteed that we are one piece away from putting up a historic season.

Hey guess what? If you don’t ever go get that piece, you start to fall more than just one piece short. That’s exactly where the Yankees find themselves right now. If you really and truly believe that this is the core that is going to snap the slide, then you better go out and get some pieces to help them. On the flip side, if this group is not the one to do it, it’s on Cashman and the front office to recognize that and trade what you can to set up for the next run.

There is no way possible you can stay put at this deadline. The cute “we have guys coming” spiel does not work when you come in as favorites and are hovering at .500. This is the year to make a move. Whether it’s buying or selling, this team cannot look the same come August 1st.