Taking stock of the Yankees’ trade chips



The Yankees have been very active on the free agent market this offseason, though it’s easy to forget since most of the signings were re-signings. Kevin Youkilis is the only new player the team has signed this winter, and they still have questions to answer at DH, behind the plate (unlikely to be addressed in a meaningful way), and on the bench. There’s a lot of offseason left and a lot of holes to fill.

For a big market team like New York, free agency is the easiest way to add players. There’s always the trade route though, and in fact the club has swung a major trade in four of the last five offseasons. Some (Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson) have worked better than others (Michael Pineda and Javy Vazquez). The Yankees may or may not have a trade of that magnitude left in them this winter, but not every deal has to be a blockbuster to help. Let’s take stock of the team’s current crop of trade chips.

Boone Logan
Logan, 28, has emerged as the team’s primary left-handed reliever over the last two years, but in no way should he be off limits this offseason. In fact, Clay Rapada has been much more effective against same-side hitters in recent years, though he’s unusable against righties. Logan can at least fake it against batters of the opposite hand if need be. Since he’s due to become a free agent next winter and is coming off a career-high (and league-leading) 80 appearances, Boone should be made very available this winter. Teams continually prove willing to overpay for quality relief, especially a left-handed relief.

Eduardo Nunez
For all his defensive deficiencies, the 25-year-old Nunez has garnered plenty of trade interest (from the Braves and Mariners, specifically) in recent years. Finding decent middle infield help these days is close to impossible, so teams are eager to roll the dice on a cheap young player with speed and contact skills. Frankly, if Nunez had spent the last few years in some other city, a lot of Yankees fans would be looking at him as a buy-low guy whose defense might be fixable with enough reps. Because we’ve seen the hilarious frequency of his errors first hand, he gets written off quickly. C’est la vie.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Ivan Nova & David Phelps
The Yankees brought both Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte back, meaning Nova and Phelps will battle it out for the fifth starter’s spot in camp. The loser goes to the bullpen (or Triple-A) to wait his turn as the sixth starter. Both guys could also be trade bait as young, cost-controlled back-end arms, though both also have their warts. Nova got pounded last season and Phelps has just a handful of big league starts to his credit.

Phil Hughes could also be lumped into this group, but he only offers one year of team control and is being counted on as the fourth starter behind the three veterans. He shouldn’t be off-limits, but he might not fetch as much as the team would like given the impending free agency. Hughes is most desirable to contenders, and it’s not often you see a trade made between two contenders.

Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez & Tyler Austin
You can’t have a trade chips post without mentioning the top prospects. These four represent the team’s best young minor leaguers in whatever order, though none of them have meaningful experience at the Double-A level. For all intents and purposes, they’re four high-upside guys in Single-A ball.  As we’ve seen in the recent R.A. Dickey and James Shields trades, it takes an elite prospect on the cusp of the big leagues to land an impact player. Teams will surely line up to acquire these four, but I don’t think any of them would be enough to bring say, a young and MLB ready impact bat without significant secondary pieces. Twelve months from now, one or all of these guys could be among the best trade chips in the sport.

* * *

Curtis Granderson’s name has popped up as a trade candidate numerous times this offseason, though I maintain that it will be close to impossible to trade him and improve the team at the same time. The Yankees didn’t drop $62M total on five free agents this winter to trade their best power hitter for a young player who might help two or three years from now, potentially wasting a year of CC Sabathia at his best, of Robinson Cano at his best, of David Robertson at his best, of Pettitte and Mariano Rivera before they call it a career. With the 2014 payroll plan looming, making one last “all-in” run in 2013 should be the club’s top priority even if they seem to feel differently.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Blake says:

    ” The Yankees didn’t drop $62M total on five free agents this winter to trade their best power hitter for a young player who might help two or three years from now”

    I agree with this….and this you have to replace Granderson before you can trade him.

    But if this is true then don’t they kinda HAVE to add a real catcher? Can they spend all this money for 2013 and go into the season with two bad back ups and a rookie with back trouble behind the plate?

    • MannyGeee says:

      yeah, but who? And please don’t say AJ Pierzinski.

      • just curious as to why you’re not a Pierzynski fan? Is it because he’s been labled as a ‘bad clubhouse guy’? Or that you don’t think he’s a good player.

        • DSFC says:

          I don’t like him, AND he’s not very good, AND he’s going to get overpaid. I doubt he comes anywhere near his 2012 numbers again, and it’s not like he’s a magician behind the plate either.

        • MannyGeee says:

          I think the hit first (using hit first VERY liberally), defense last guys who are coming off career years are the same type of players we shouldn’t be going for.

          And yes, he is universally known as a dick. That counts for something.

          • David says:

            Being a dick counts for less than nothing, especially since we’d only be looking at a 1-year deal for AJ P. Sheffield was a dick, and it took 3 years for that to manifest as a serious clubhouse issue IIRC. Also, AJ’s dickishness didn’t hurt the Sox in ’05.

            Offensively he’s hardly a stud in a vacuum, but he’s Yogi freakin’ Berra compared to the in-house alternatives.

      • Blake says:


    • Midnight Rider says:

      Now that Ethier is in play a Cano for Ethier with fill ins etc makes sense if yanks think Cano is headed that way next year anyway…

      • Rich in NJ says:

        Not really. Ethier isn’t younger, isn’t cheap, and isn’t as good. If they trade Cano, it has to be for several cost-controlled young players with major upside.

      • mitch says:

        Cano for ethier would be insane. You could probably sign swisher to ethier’s contract and not give up one of the best player’s in the game.

        I’d be interested in Ethier if LA ate 20 mil and took a B-level prospect in return.

      • Laz says:

        Wouldn’t do that. Ethier is already making $17M aav for a rf with terrible defense and a .350 obp 20 hr guy. Might be nice to see if they could get him to pull more over the lf wall, but they should only give up what he is worth in LA. Right now he is overpaid, so they would be giving cano away for free.

      • Mister D says:

        I’d rather release Cano than trade him for Ethier.

      • JU says:

        Are u serious with that Ethier trade? The mets just got one of the best catching prospects in baseball and a top 100ish pitcher for a 38yo knuckleballer going into FA, and you wanna trade one of the best players in the game for a platoon RFer who is below avg defensively?

      • Dude says:

        What about Cano to Texas for Andrus(I’m sure he can play second and is Jeter’s long term replacement) Olt( A Rod’s replacement, move Arod to permanent DH) and a middle pitching prospect(Perez perhaps? ) and a major league catcher(Soto?) . I LIKE THAT TRADE

    • Warren says:

      I’d be looking to see if McCutchen is available…. And Cano needs to go this year or his stock drops in value after that. The Yankees are not going to give him a ten year deal so lets get a package of young talent in return. I’d be looking to St Louis and pry Craig and Freese from them…. If you include Gardener you could get Jon Jay too …

  2. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Completely agree on selling high with Boone. Also agree that the top prospects are not yet at a point where they get you something great, and that we’ll also know a ton more about their trajectory rather quickly this season. I’d really rather wait the extra season and see how really does look like they stand a solid shot of wearing pinstripes, even at the risk of waitinf too long on someone. Nova and Phelps would really depend on the return, as well as Hughes dependent on how the Yankees see his future with the team.

    My gut? Something will happen and you pretty much picked some of the names involved perfectly.

    • Laz says:

      I would trade Boone if they could get anything decent. They are fine with loogys. They have Rapada, Cabral, and the young guy they claimed from SD.

      • Travis L. says:

        Chances are Josh Spence gets claimed off waivers, just like Whiteside and Storey (although Storey just got DFA’d by HOU again). They do have Juan Cedeno in AAA to make up for losing Spence (if they do lose him).

    • JU says:

      Something is going to happen – I don’t necessarily think its gonna be good – but I’m relatively certain that Gardner, Nunez and Nova/Phelps will be traded. My relative certainty being worth what exactly…

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        I don’t see Gardner going anywhere. He’s too cheap and provides too much defensive value. They’d have to get something really good for him, and I don’t see that happening.

  3. Midnight Rider says:

    Not exactly an overwhelming list of names there. In reality Nunez,Logan, Nova and Phelps would have exactly the same rolls on any team they were traded to as none are even mid tier players and would be back end at best. It’s not a bright picture on trade front.

  4. BJ says:

    Good post. I thoroughly agree with your conclusion that we should be going all in on 2013 for the swan song of Jeter, Pettitte, and Rivera. The offseason is far from over, I think we could still see some surprising signings or trades to improve the team for 2013.

    • Laz says:

      But they shouldn’t be trading the prospects to get there. If they are going to want to stay below the payroll cap, and field a competitive team they will need to have that pipeline of young cheap talent. Cano and Gardner have been absolute bargains for their production.

  5. DSFC says:

    This is what doesn’t make sense to me, though – you’re right, throwing everything into a 2013 run before the inevitable step back in 2014 makes sense. So, that being the case, why the hell did they let Martin walk???? Made no sense at the time, and makes no sense now. I’m trying to convince myself that they had some other deal in mind that fell through, because willingly going from Martin to a Cervelli-Stewart tandem is mind-boggling.

    • LK says:

      Yeah, choosing not to bring back Martin is the real head-scratcher so far – reasonable money and no obvious alternatives. That said, I’m still hoping to be surprised with a trade for starting caliber C.

    • Bubba says:

      Because Martin sucked for a vast portion of the season. Will Cervelli/Stewart be worse than Martin? Probably but not definitely. Martin had a career low triple slash with a career high in SO%. The only reason he is considered average for a C is there are not 30 starting C in MLB.

    • Bubba says:

      Because Martin sucked for a vast portion of the season. Will Cervelli/Stewart be worse than Martin? Probably but not definitely. Martin had a career low triple slash with a career high in SO%. The only reason he is considered average for a C is there are not 30 starting C in MLB.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz says:

      Agree. Has anyone heard of any bad blood between the front office and Martin since rejecting the offer from last off-season?

  6. Forgot to add Cano as a trade chip.

  7. Rich in NJ says:

    The only way it makes sense to trade Granderson given their reported goal of trying to squeeze one last WS out of their aging players before implementing an austerity budget for at least a season, and perhaps longer, is to either sign a FA OF as a replacement and then use the chips acquired in a deal as part of a package to fill some other position of need, or to keep them so that they have more quality, cost-controlled young players so that they can compete at a high level while they shrink payroll.

    • Midnight Rider says:

      Why do you guys keep saying this is a swan song for Jeter, Pettitte and Mo. None have said this is their last years in fact Pettitte has already talked about two more and Jeter is looking for an extention. Probably last go round for Mo but other two could be here for years..

      • Rich in NJ says:

        Because if the effective payroll is going to be near $170 something million, I find it hard to believe that they will take the kind of paycuts that would be required given that CC, A-Rod, Tex, and probably Cano will make nearly $100m.

        I am including Kuroda, not Jeter.

      • DC says:

        When did Pettitte talk about two more years and when did Jeter say he wants an extension?

        • Laz says:

          Jeter has stated during this season that if Yankees won’t bring him back he will go to another team. He says he will retire when he is ready, not when Yankees tell him to.

          • Cris Pengiucci says:

            I actually find it hard to believe that:

            1) Jeter will actually leave the Yankees after 2014 if the Yankees don’t offer him another contract and he still feels he can play, despite what he says (I haven’t actually seen him quoted as saying that he would)
            2) Another team will offer him a contract he won’t be insulted with. (And I’m a Jeter fan)

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I’m feeling an itching for MidnightRiderWorld.

      • LK says:

        The reality is that even if those guys want to keep playing, the days of their effectiveness are almost over. They’re historically great players, but everybody starts to decline in their 40s, and it can happen very quickly (just look at Posada).

  8. JohnC says:

    Trading Granderson went out the window when Josh hamilton came off the market.

  9. I Collect Brett Gardner Cards says:

    I don’t get it.

    You wrote this:

    “it takes an elite prospect on the cusp of the big leagues to land an impact player”.

    then this about grandy:

    “The Yankees didn’t drop $62M total on five free agents this winter to trade their best power hitter for a young player who might help two or three years from now”,

    Isn’t ‘on the cusp’ meaning midway point of this season or next?

    Look what the Jays gave up for dickey.
    I do think the yanks can get something back for grandy that will make sense.

    I also think cashman has fumbled the ball this offseason so far.

    I would have made trading grandy the priority and resigned swish and martin. Then losing the power of curtis wouldn’t have been as bad.

    With grandy, we’re not losing a Homer, we’re gaining a runner in scoring position.

    • mitch says:

      With grandy, we’re not losing a Homer, we’re gaining a runner in scoring position

      You could rewrite this as “losing a guaranteed run for a potential run”

    • LK says:

      Dickey has considerably more trade value than Granderson. He’s signed much cheaper for 2013, was willing to take a (relatively) cheap extension, and was coming off a much better season. I would have done Granderson for d’Arnaud, but I don’t see the Yankees getting that kind of value for Curtis.

      I think you could maybe make a case that Grandy is comparable to Shields in value, but the Royals were desperate for a pitching upgrade and that deal has been almost universally described as an overpay, so I don’t think it’s very informative for determining a potential return for Granderson.

      I just don’t see a team out there that would give up a blue chip prospect, to say nothing of the fact that trading Grandy makes the 2013 OF a massive question mark.

      • Laz says:

        Royals paid more for Shields than Toronto paid for Dickey, and it was quite a bit. Was like #3 and #31 overall vs #11 and #73

        • LK says:

          Completely agree. I just don’t think the Shields/Royals trade should really set expectations for what future players can fetch prospect-wise. I’ve yet to see anyone make a genuine argument that the Royals even broke even on that trade.

    • turd surfer says:

      Prospects on the cusp rarely contribute in a meaningful way right away. We just were spoiled by Trout and Harper.

  10. Upstate Yanks says:


    Great post. I’m glad you left Granderson off of this list. People seem to forget that he led the team in HRs and more importantly, RBIs. Even though his strikeouts and BA were terrible, he is still a very important part of the 2013 team, and he’s been durable (fingers crossed).

    The idea of having one last go at it this year is a good one. I think we have a team capable of 90 wins. With Andy, Kuroda, Granderson, Mo, and possibly Cano all retiring or leaving for FA after 2013, this is the time to make a final run.

    The 4 guys at single A should be left to develop and come up within the organization. Yankee fans need to come to grips with a couple years of rebuilding in order to build another great young team.

    • I Collect Brett Gardner Cards says:

      i agree about grandys numbers and all that.
      But it would suck to lose him for nothing.
      tho I do think he gets moved at the deadline the more i think bout it.

      My thing also is, who fills this team up next year?
      More placeholder one year options?
      No way the kids will be ready right?

      • mitch says:

        I really doubt grandy gets moved this year unless the yanks are somehow out of playoff contention before the trade deadline. He’s definitely a flawed hitter, but he’s still their second most dangerous bat.

        They can also give him a qualifying offer after the season, so they won’t lose him for nothing.

    • Laz says:

      I don’t even think it will be rebuilding. They are at least as good as Toronto this year, and they still should be decent in the future.

  11. austinmac says:

    The Yankees don’t have the budget space to pay Mo or Pettitte in 2014. They are not coming back.

  12. cashmoney says:

    In Mo,AP,Jeter,Kuroda, you have a lot talents that are on their last legs with the Yanks and tons of trade value. If the Yanks find themselves in a situation where demand greatly tips supply side and a great deal returns can be had in terms of prospects, would Cmoney consider trading those guys?

  13. MannyGeee says:

    Maybe I am speaking evils here, but is using DRob as a trade chip feasible? He still has a few years of control left, has been very-good-to-great in the late inning/closer role.

    A lot of things need to break right (confidence in Joba as the heir apparent, MO being in game shape to start the season, some health/luck with Aardsma/AAA relievers/a Cory Wade type player), Robertson becomes a great chip, and kind of expendable…

    If teams will overpay for Boone Logan, I would imagine you could get a nice package started with DRob. That said, I would hate to see him go, but would hate it a little less if a Chase Headley type was part of the return… jus sayin

    • cashmoney says:

      The thought of trading anyone on this team is feasible provided you get equal or greater return back in terms of talents that which is somewhat subjective. With a decrepit core and self imposed mandate in 14, This is their last hurrah with this group imo.

    • Upstate Yanks says:

      D-Rob has a future closing role and is cost controlled. I think you leave him out of trade talks unless you get blown away.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Yeah, I know… but what if Carlos Santana is in play? I am not saying dangle him for ANYONE. I am saying dangle him for THE RIGHT ONE. You know you need a RH thumping bat & a catcher that isnt shitty. If Santana is in play and Cleveland is looking for an upgrade to Chris Perez. you have to listen I think… #irresponsiblerumormongering

        Plus, is losing Robertson REEALLY that much less palatable than losing Jesus Montero last season?

        • Mister D says:

          Same page. I’d trade D-Rob for whoever his RF equivalent would be.

        • Mister D says:

          Gross. I just searched RF with 250 PAs by wOBA and our guy Ichiro is 39th out of 46. I’d be so much happier with a complete hole out there right now.

          • Ray Witt says:

            I’m really sick of people crapping all over Ichiro…now that he has something to play for he’s going to be great!He will continue to put up similar numbers to his Yankee stats last year and will go down as one of the bettter F/A signings!!

        • Kosmo says:

          Trading Granderson would be difficult but not impossible. I´m still wondering who will play LF for NY in 2014 ?
          Granderson for Jaso, Saunders and Pryor?

    • Laz says:

      Joba is a free agent though at years end. To me no one should ever be off limits in a trade aside from mo/jeter. It is just that what kind of return will they bring.

  14. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    Martin getting a qualifying offer would have made sense.

    • JohnC says:

      for 13 million? no way! Sorry but he is no big loss. I just as soon go with a combo of Cervelli/Romine and take my chances

      • Upstate Yanks says:

        Your missing his value of working a veteran rotation. Pitcher/Catcher relationships has value. But then again who’s to say that Cevi and Romine cant develop those partnerships with the staff?

      • Laz says:

        It would have been an overpay, but also would mean that it wouldn’t change the payroll for 2014. Would give them another year to see if Romine is ready.

  15. Hendo says:

    I get that Granderson provides power, and 40 plus hom run hitters are slim and none. But letting him walk at the end of the year for draft picks that will take longer to develop than 2-3 years is not smart either. I think power numbers are a bit overrated when it comes to winning the World Series for example the Giants have won two of the last three championships when there leading home run hitter hit just 24, and a team total of 103.

    Not to long ago when the Bombers dominated the late 90′s it was pitching and clutch hitting/contact hitting, low strike out totals. Granderson does not hit top tier pitching, that is why the Tigers have beaten us the last two years. Trade Granderson, move Gardner to center, and Get Jason Werth for left.

  16. Chris in Durham says:

    I’m surprised to see Joba’s name missing from this list. He is 2014 FA and I’m not convinced that the Yankees are at all impressed with his act. A previous poster suggested Joba as Mo’s replacement. I don’t see it. I’m not a hater, but I don’t trust him in the closer’s role and I think he’ll cost too much as a FA to keep otherwise. Time to move on. I can see Cash waiting for Joba to have a nice Spring before moving him though.

  17. anthony says:

    i feel yankees should trade the likes of granderson and hughes.they are not in our future plans and need to be turned into prospects now! grandersons production can be replaced with someone like Alfonso Soriano, move Gardy to center and put him in left. right handed hitter with 30 hrs and 100 rbis at a reported 5 mil per year for the next two sign me up.we would have a productive OF of soriano/Gardner/ichiro for under 18 mil total.

    Hughes spot in the rotation can be filled with nova/phelps and hopefully pineda when he returns.Or sign a starter to a one year deal.

    • Chris in Durham says:

      +1 on the Granderson move. Soriano is an obnoxiously selfish player (I hated the bat flipping when he was here), but I’m pretty desperate to see a real RH bat added to this lineup. A steady diet of opposing leftys is otherwise sure to make 20013 less fun to watch.

  18. JerryJRC says:

    Show me a blue chip Yankees prospect that can bring back an impact player and I will show you a major league ready catcher on Yankees roster!

  19. Warfield42 says:

    One last – all in (?) run for the post season? REALLY? This team IS NOT built for post season. No Ace…CC’s the best #2 in the game but he can’t touch Verlander, Price or Felix (not that they have to worry bout’ Felix post-season). The line-up has horrid playoff bats, shaky defense, no Catcher. I seriously doubt this team makes the playoffs much less runs in them. Take CASHman’s wallet away & whaddya got? They need to make a deal NO MATTER THE COST for King Felix.

  20. ClusterDuck says:

    I don’t thick the Granderson trade was good.

    And I hope the Yanks don’t trade any of their younger pitchers (Hughes, Nova, and Phelps) and I hope they don’t trade their top line prospects (Williams, Austin, Slade and Sanchez.

    If they do, it’s a mistake and more of the same since 2009.

  21. JobaWockeeZ says:

    TRADE GRANDY. If you’re so concerned with lost production then sign Swish. Grandy’s not this irreplaceable figure people are making him out to be…

  22. J $ says:

    Why does it feel like in one year we went from having this bright future with a farm system loaded with talent to a team over budget full of old washed up guys and no legitimate prospects anywhere near the majors?

    • DC says:

      Because you listen to loco commenters on here instead of thinking for yourself? Too many on this board suffer from a bad case of ” the grass is always greener”.

  23. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:

    Happy to see the the Melk Man is safe.

  24. Tom says:

    I like the idea of trading Logan for several reasons, but I’m not sure how much he gets back.

    1) It might get Cashman/Girardi off this 2 LOOGY default bullpen setting. You don’t need a lefty specialist for every lefthanded hitter that comes up in the 6th and 7th innings. A better arm as the 5th man in the pen seems more valuable. With 2 LOOGY’s and a long man you are putting a lot of strain on 4 guys (a few of which are question marks)

    2) His slider usage went through the roof and I have to think it is a matter of time before he has a serious elbow or shoulder issue. Jeff Zimmerman did some studies on injuries and slider usage over at Fangraphs – I think he did it for starters, but found when you start getting above 30% (or maybe it wsas 40%?) the injury rate seems to increase. Logan was at 52% sliders last year. Hard to predict an injury but given his workload and his pitch mix, I’d be worried.

    3) It creates some space for a guy like Cabral who could be a lefty relief pitcher (as opposed to a LOOGY). I’m assuming Rapada would be the LOOGY if Logan leaves

    The Dbacks might be looking for a LOOGY (they got Sipp in the Bauer trade, but he’s not all that good) – I wonder if Logan plus a prospect (not one of the big 4 position players) would get someone like Kubel? Not enough?

  25. Patrick Oliver says:

    I agree Mike.
    Go Yankees!

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