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Are the 2013 Yankees ‘sellers’?

The road ahead for the Yankees is daunting.  Boston, Tampa, and Baltimore all sit ahead of the Yankees in the AL East standings and, in addition to those teams, the Yankees have to overcome Texas (and possibly others) to contend for the Wild Card.  The division is all but out of reach.  Boston is on track to win 97 games and Tampa is right on their heels.  The Yankees would have to go 45-19 (.703 ball) to win 97 games this year – a run like that with this roster would be unprecedented.

The more realistic scenario is a Wild Card berth.  Currently the Orioles hold the second Wild Card spot and are on pace to win 92 games, a much more reachable win total.  The Yanks would have to go 40-24 (.625 ball) to win that many games, a goal that could be out of reach after the next seven days.

Brian Cashman might be selling at the trade deadline for the first time as Yankees GM.

The trade deadline is still 10 days away, but the next seven will determine if the Yankees are buyers/stayers (for lack of a better term) or sellers at the July 31st trade deadline.  They have four games against Texas and three against Tampa – both teams they need to beat if they want to make the postseason.

A worst case scenario for Brian Cashman would be if the Yankees tread water and remain exactly where they are right now – 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.  Three and a half games is seemingly nothing, especially with 64 games still to play, but it is false hope in my opinion.  The Yankees need to show who they truly are over this stretch; either a team who can make a second half push or a team that should be dismantled at the trade deadline.  There are two scenarios…

Buyers/Stayers:  If the Yankees win the Texas and Tampa series’ then management can be confident this team can still make a push for the postseason.  Cashman could confidently acquire a right handed bat (say, Michael Young or Alfonso Soriano) to help in the short run until injured players hopefully make a healthy return – which would essentially serve as mid-season acquisitions.  This scenario, of course, is how the Yankees depleted their farm system in the past by trading potential young contributors for aged veterans.  The good news is that I don’t foresee Cashman overextending for any player, especially since there are no big-ticket prizes to be had.

Sellers:  It’s simple; if this team loses more ground before the trade deadline then Cashman will have no choice but to sell.  Hiroki Kuroda – who has been the team’s best pitcher – has immense trade value and could get a young prospect or two in return.  Kuroda is a free agent at season’s end and would not require a financial commitment for a team past 2013.  Additionally, if the Yankees truly want him for their 2014 roster they could make a push for him in the offseason.

Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain – while both are overrated – could prove to be of value to a contender who needs a boost down the stretch.  It is not unfathomable to imagine Hughes succeeding in a more pitcher friendly park, and the Yankees will almost certainly part ways with Chamberlain at the end of the season so trading him would not be of any loss.

Either way, it will be interesting to see what Cashman does.  The Yankees have not been sellers since the early ‘90s – not even in 2008 which was the last time they didn’t play in October.  That season they traded for Ivan Rodriguez at mid-season.  (They were about 5 years and a few steroid cycles late on Pudge, but hey, good try Cashman!).  I could see them making a similar move of that caliber this season, but they might be better served to just sell for the future.