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Are the Yankees willing to wheel and deal at the deadline?

July 31st is a mere 13 days away now and the 2015 trade deadline has been a snooze fest thus far.  The rumors that have been flying around baseball have been mostly the same as rumors coming out of Spring Training.  When will the Phillies trade Cole Hamels?  Will the Reds have a fire sale after they host the All Star game if they are not in contention?  So far, everyone is holding on to their cards and no moves are being made.  But that can’t last for long.  Can it?

The Yankees have ridden the power bats of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the top of the order combo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and a lights out back end to the bullpen to the top spot in the AL East and currently have a 4.5 game lead.  This team obviously has its weaknesses and needs that could be addressed.  But, so does pretty much every other team in baseball.  So, what is inhibiting all of these teams from jumping into the fray and making improvements?

From a league standpoint, there are more teams in contention for a playoff spot than ever before.  As of today, there is only one team in all of baseball that is farther than 10 games out of the 2nd wildcard spot.  That means the rest are only a short win streak from being right in the thick of things.  As horribly awful as the Red Sox pitching has been, they are still only 7.5 games back of the division lead.

This is holding up things for two reasons.  First, teams that are towards the bottom of this list of clubs in contention are waiting to look at the first 10 games coming out of the All Star break to make a decision.  Go 8-2 and move to within 5 games of a playoff spot and a team like the Orioles or Jays might pull the trigger on a deal.  However, 2-8 and dropping to the wrong side of the previously mentioned 10 game deficit with 60 or so games to go and they might decide to stand pat.  Or even become sellers.  This could be the strategy teams like the White Sox and A’s are looking at.

The second factor holding up the trade process is that teams that are looking to sell off players are holding on until the last minute to drive the price up.  The more buyers in the market, the more likely a selling team can demand more in return.  And the closer to July 31st we get, the more likely a team can get a bigger return.  So the incentive to hold out until the end is there for any club looking to make a deal for prospects with their future in mind instead of winning in 2015.  And at the same time get a 10 game window to see if their current team can make a quick move in the standings.

Now to the good stuff.  A look at things from the Yankees standpoint.  Do the Yankees have needs?  Absolutely.  A starting pitcher is the most glaring spot to start with.  Solidifying the infield.  A bat for the bench.  All would be useful pieces heading down the stretch.  But, there is one thing keeping the Yanks from pulling the trigger on a deal for a front line starter.  The same thing that has fans, myself included, most excited about.  The prospects that are on the verge of a move to the Bronx.

In order for the Yankees to land a Hamels, Cueto, or even a Jeff Samardzija, they would have to dig into the top levels of their system.  Then you are looking at giving up a Severino, Judge, or a Refsnyder.  That seems like a price the front office has shown they are not willing to pay.  Especially for someone like Cueto, who might be a rental and move on after the season is over.

The most likely scenario for the Yankees will be a move or moves similar to the 2014 season when they brought in Brandon McCarthy and Martin Prado.  These were two moves that were of great benefit to the team, but didn’t cost a lot as far as prospects or players already on the big league roster.  The free agent market for starting pitchers over the next couple of seasons is going to have a lot of big names available.  Holding on to top talent and making subtle moves to the current roster might be the best option for the Yankees.  Then they can make a strike in free agency and be ready to dominate again.  It’s not like there are teams in front of the Yankees that they need to make up ground on.  They just need a couple of smaller moves to build on what they have now and keep playing consistent baseball.

One thing is for certain.  In the next 13 days, there will be a number of deals that are made.  And most likely, a couple of big names will change uniforms.  The price is going to be high for some.  The Yankees should definitely be buyers.  Just not be too aggressive and end up with buyers remorse.  For all of Brian Cashman’s criticisms, he has shown the ability over the years to find a key add on to playoff contending teams with out giving up a lot in return.  Hopefully, this year will be no exception and the Yankees will steamroll to the AL East title and a World Series run.