Taking stock of the Yankees’ trade chips

Newman: Ty Hensley expected to miss all of 2013
Prospect Injury Updates: Gumbs, Whitley, Ravel
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Earlier this week I took an early look at some of the Yankees’ needs leading up to the trade deadline, but trades are a two-way street. Like it or not, you have to give something to get something, and this post will focus on what the Yankees have to give.

I think the easiest thing to do is to break down potential trade chips into various categories. Ranking them one through five or one through ten or whatever doesn’t really work for something like this. Remember, a player’s trade value is only as high as what other teams think of him. They all have their own evaluations of what a player is and will be, and rarely are they fooled by a hot month or something like that. It happens, but not often. Let’s look at what New York has to peddle on the trade market.

The Impending Free Agents: Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan

I don’t expected the Yankees to trade any of these four guys — or Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda, for that matter — but it’s not completely off the table. All four will hit free agency after the season and it seems like only Hughes has a realistic chance of returning for 2014 and beyond. Or at least he should be the priority re-sign given the state of the pitching staff going forward, I should say.

Hughes also has the most trade value of the bunch at this moment, especially if his last four starts are an indication of how he will pitch going forward. Granderson could change things if he returns from the DL and starts swatting homers left and right. The Yankees have exceeded expectations so far and they are right in the thick of the division race, so I wouldn’t count on them selling off pieces if that remains the case in a month or two. This team doesn’t trade established big leaguers at the deadline, they acquire them.

The Young MLB Arms: Ivan Nova, Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, Adam Warren

Young pitching is always a hot commodity, regardless of the time of year. The Yankees have four good but not great young arms at the big league level right now, though only one has shown he can hold up for a full season as a starter in the show. Given Nova’s general awfulness since last year’s All-Star break, I think Phelps might have the most trade value of the bunch despite having one fewer year of team control remaining than Nuno or Warren. The Yankees need young pitching as much as anyone, but none of these four are expected to be high-end contributors and simple attrition means one or two are likely to flame out rather soon. Keeping the right guys and moving the wrong ones is much easier said than done.

The Top Prospects: Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams

All four of these guys were consensus top 100 prospects coming into the year, but I don’t view any of them as untouchable. The Yankees have a collection of very good but not truly elite position player prospects, none of whom has more than a month of playing time above High-A to their credit. That will limit their value.


Based on the way people in the organization publicly talked about these players the last few weeks, I’m guess Heathcott is the least likely to go. He’s the tooled up former first round pick, and those guys tend to get more rope than anyone else. Sanchez is probably the most indispensable since he’s a catcher and the best prospect of the bunch, but he shouldn’t stand in the way of a significant upgrade to the big league roster in my opinion. Aside from the Cliff Lee non-trade, the Yankees don’t trade their top prospects for rentals. If they move one (or several) of these guys, it will be for someone who will stick around for a few years.

The Secondary Prospects: Jose Campos, Ramon Flores, Corban Joseph, Brett Marshall, Jose Ramirez, etc.

Any player who is a legitimate big league prospect — there are a lot fewer than most fans want to admit — but not a top prospect falls into this category. These are the guys who are missing the standout tool, who are too far down the ladder and unproven, have injury issues, stuff like that. They’re unlikely to be headliners in a trade, especially for an established big leaguer, but they are second and third pieces in a package. Some are easier to part with than others, obviously.

The Impending Rule 5 Draft Guys: Heathcott, Tommy Kahnle, Bryan Mitchell, J.R. Murphy, Chase Whitley

Consider this a sub-category under Secondary Prospects. The Yankees have added something like six or seven prospects to the 40-man roster in each of the last two or three years to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which has created a lot of 40-man clutter. Many of them were fringy prospects who were unlikely to stick on a team’s 25-man active roster all season. Rather than add to the pile this offseason, I’d like to see the Yankees decides which prospects are actually worthwhile and look to move the others. Trading them a year too soon is better than losing them on waivers a year too late. Heathcott and Murphy are locks to be added to the 40-man after the season, but the others are in that “interesting but not MLB ready” limbo. Trading them now would be preferable to carrying them on the 40-man as they continue to develop.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Wildcards: Eduardo Nunez, Lyle Overbay, Ichiro Suzuki

Has Overbay played well enough that some team would actually be willing to give up an okay prospect for him when Mark Teixeira returns? Would the clubs who pursued Ichiro this winter — the Giants, Phillies, and White Sox as far as we know — be interested in taking him via trade? Several teams have asked about Nunez in the past, are any still interested? Those are questions I can’t answer, but they are questions that could have surprisingly positive answers for the Yankees. They’re going to have to move people once the injured players start to return, it would be neat if one or two of them brought something back.

* * *

The Yankees have a large volume of trade chips at their disposal leading up to the deadline, but there’s no knockout player they can put on the table who would help them get pretty much anyone they want. There’s no Jurickson Profar, no 2007 Joba, no 2010 Jesus Montero. The team has some obvious needs, and they might have too look a little harder than most years to find a potential trade partner given what they have to offer.

Newman: Ty Hensley expected to miss all of 2013
Prospect Injury Updates: Gumbs, Whitley, Ravel
  • Pharryn

    Chase Whitley will not only be protected on the 40-man roster after the season, but potentially will be pitching out of the major league bullpen later this year. He basically has a full year of AAA experience and is the type of bullpen arm the Yankees are trying to develop – can pitch to RH / LH over multiple innings. http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=whitle001cha

  • trr

    good article; thanks…I don’t neccesarily see any of our prospects as an “untouchable”, but would want to see the team get more than just a half-season rental for the top guys; Among the impending MLB free agents, it’s really a matter of practicality, isn’t it? If we’re still contending at the deadline it would be hard to give any of them up, unless in some as of yet unimaginable blockbuster deal. If we’re really out of contention, then (shudder) well, that’s a very different thing

    • jjyank

      I don’t think that anyone is untouchable in the right trade, but a couple of them really do narrow my definition of the right trade to pretty extreme levels. Sanchez, in particular.

      • trr

        He’s my #1 guy as well

      • hogsmog

        I’d trade him for a slightly lower rated shortstop, but yeah, he’d be tough to pry from me.

    • joseph gandolfo

      i would be very happy if the yankees moved nunez

  • Bob Buttons

    Kahnle is doing well at AA, so by the end of the year he may be more well-regarded than someone else on the 40 man, or maybe he can be traded for a younger, non-rule 5 eligible guy.

  • Tim B

    If i were the GM, i would try to get under $189 milion luxury tax thing. Texieria is injured alot so i think i would trade Teixeira. I wouldnt mind him being traded although that does equal gold gloves, home runs and RBI’s. Overbay could be traded as he has value.

    Who i could see being traded:
    Lyle Overbay, Ben Francisco, Boone Logan
    Shawn Kelley, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sanchez
    A-Rod, Travis Hafner

    Who i couldnt see being traded:
    Cano, Cc, Hughes, Kuroda, Nova, Phelps, Youkilis, Granderson, Joba, Mariano, Vidal Nuno, Gardener, Ichiro, Boesch, Cervelli, Stewart, Romine, Nix, Nelson, Jeter, Pineda, Robertson, Adam Warren.

    • Bob Buttons

      Most, if not all GMs wouldn’t even touch Tex and ARod with a HazMat suit on,

    • the other Steve S.

      You might want to work on those proposals some. Tex has a no-trade and has stated emphatically more than once that he isn’t going anywhere. I think A-Rod has a no-trade as well but no one would take him anyway.

      You also express a desite to trade away everybody that can play or fake 1B. Not sure what your plan was for manning that position.

      Sanchez likely figures as the catcher of the future. He might go but it would have to be for real value.

      • CG

        If sanchez comes up in two years or so, and Cervelli is (even half) as good as he was at the start of this season, either one could go and would serve as a pretty good piece in a trade. That’s something to think about.

    • trr

      Tim, some of these guys (Mark Teixeira, A-Rod) are unmovable, some
      (Ben Francisco, Shawn Kelley) are unwanted

      • Tim B

        They would have to waive their no-trade clause. Yanks could have traded Arod but they didnt want to pay majority of the contract or something like that. Maybe a GM could offer Tex a $100 milliom deal if he agrees to be traded. Never know. It could happen. Likely not. Shawn Kelley was wanted by the yanks. Thats why they traded for him. Lol. But yeah, i would keep Nuno up and senf Kelley down or something.

  • Larry

    I’d trade Girardi, his Binder & Stewie for a couple of Shake Shack stands.

    • MC

      Speak for yourself. I’m a Girardi fan. There are reasons why they Yanks have the record they currently do and not all of it is because of the players. Me thinking that Girardi alone added an extra win or two already and with some good managing.

  • your mom

    Fuck it, trade em all.

  • vicki

    speaking of (erst) trade chips, anybody watch the m’s squeak by the bucs on a game-tying aj wp and a game-winning jesus hr?

    • MannyGeee

      Double Cashman Fail!

  • LarryM Fl

    My reading of the article has given me a picture of our trade chips. The best are Hughes, Heathcote and Sanchez if we trade these guys are future looks bleak. The rest of the players mentioned are second and third tier chips in a trade. So, it looks as the Yanks will be hurting for a few years in the wins/Loss column. But we will have a ton of money to get back to the good old days with long term contracts to lure players to sign. Then we can watch them under perform and fall to injuries.

    I can understand the lack of talent on the farm. We have had a long run of prosperity. Some of you may see the other side of prosperity. Many of us know it all to well.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    I’ll trade Lobels and their line longer than space mountain for another ‘Cocktail’ bar.

    • Evan3457

      No thanks. I like the steak sandwiches there, even at the steep price.

  • MC

    Well done on this post. I’ve been taking stock with our players as well. My account expired on ESPN, but I wanted to right something to this effect in one of Olney’s columns. Strangely, writers are not talking about a few great chips that the Yanks have and considering what they intend to do in 2014 with payroll, if that sticks, the Yanks might be able to get a few nice prospects in return. Depending on how the Tigers bullpen plays, I see them being a nice match again and I would look at Castellanos. Don’t know what it would take from the bunch listed above, but it won’t be egregious. He is after all, still a prospect. Plus the Tigers HAVE to win the WS this year. Really, already. That said, additions like Joba and or Logan would really suit them well.

    One name you didn’t post was David Robertson and I know, I get it..he could be Mo’s heir and the Yanks really REALLY like him. I do too, but if you’re talking about getting something really good in return, like a young prospect with the potential to be a franchise player, I definitely would consider including (or headlining) a package that includes Robertson.

    None the less, thanks for posting. This was required reading and like you said, the Yanks could be staring at a .500 record come June 15th, which would be terrible, but their reality. Shit, I might even make deals even if they’re playing slightly above. I’m thinking future right now.

  • JRod

    I still think Nova could generate a nice return. Now is not the time, but if he comes back and has a decent couple of starts, then they run him through the carwash & hang an air freshener on him, and shop him to an NL team. This is assuming they’ve cut bait & make an organizational assessment that he’s never going to amount to much longterm in the AL East. But I think they may be close to making that decision. Yankees fans are really down on him, understandably so. But this is a 26 y.o. starter who won 16 games in 2011 and 12 last year. He won’t be a FA until 2017. He hasn’t had a devastating injury. Provided his arm doesn’t fall off completely, this is a commodity of some value, which could make an appealing reclamation project for some team. Of course like all trade speculation, this is, well, highly speculative.

  • And in merrie olde England

    “and starts swatting homers left and right.”

    Granderson gone back to switch hitting?

  • JobaWockeeZ

    I hope they trade Granderson. He’ll give us the most value back in a trade and we’ll need every young piece we can get because of the luxury tax.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    How expensive will Jose Reyes be when he returns from the DL in July?

    If the Yankees cannot extend Robinson Cano, they should consider making the following offer to the Atlanta Braves.

    Cano, Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, and Austin Romine


    Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Juan Francisco, and Brian McCann

    The Braves are already on the hook for big dollars with Uggla that have not been paying off. Cano would give them far more bang for their buck this year and beyond if they can resign him. If they can’t, they can reinvest the money that they would be saving on McCann and Uggla on other areas of their team.

    Heyward obviously has more upside than Gardner, but if Justin Upton continues to perform at his current level, I am not sure if the Braves can afford both him and Heyward. Gardner will be much cheaper than Heyward over the next decade or so while giving the team more defense and speed. I don’t think I need to explain why this deal would be good for the Yankees.

  • tommy cassella

    the yanks should trade the assman to Kansas city in exchange for four steaks, eight cheeseburgers and a few baby back ribs.

  • tommy cassella.

    I just have to take back what I just said. the assman is not worth all those cheeseburgers.