Pondering a peculiar market

Sherman: Alfonso Soriano trade came from ownership
Game 104: A Zone of Danger
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like this season’s trade market has been pretty pricey thus far. It’s a seller’s market for sure – just ask the Brewers, who managed to turn Francisco Rodriguez into a decent prospect in Nick Delmonico (the fourth best prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America). The Rangers gave up Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player or two to be named later to the Cubs for Matt Garza. The White Sox will most certainly be sellers by the deadline, and you can bet they’ll place a premium price on guys like Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, and even Alexei Ramirez even though each of those players have some obvious warts.

A large part of the trade market’s demand is certainly a byproduct of the second wild card. More teams are contenders, or at least, more teams are on the verge of being contenders. Teams that probably should be considering selling realistically (i.e. the Mariners, Phillies, Royals) are instead showing a hesitancy to do so because they are still in the race (sort of), or perhaps because they think they’ll be competitive in the near future. In any event, I contend a lot of teams have a false sense of security with where they rank among their competition. Getting back to the original point though, and maybe this is an over simplification, but this season’s trade deadline has basically been defined by a bunch of teams who while are capable of “selling,” are afraid to commit to the idea which has thusly jacked up the prices on all the available players.

Instead, what we’ve seen is a lot of inaction by these very same teams as the deadline rapidly approaches. Meanwhile, the likelihood of these same teams moving dramatically through the standings remains rather unlikely. Hell, teams like the Phillies may ultimately wind up buying. I’ll be interested to see how teams like the Royals or even the former World Series Champs, the Giants, position themselves heading forward for the rest of the season and moving onward.

Then there is the Yankees. On one hand, they’re absolutely in the mix right now. With a 54-49 record, they’re seven games out of first place in the A.L. East but only 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card. Mike discussed a few of the reasons why it makes sense for the Yankees to try and contend via acquiring a few pieces by the deadline. Namely a few of the injured players will be returning, and who knows how many more productive years the team will get from older vets like Derek Jeter. Then there’s the unfortunate fact that this will be the last year they’ll have one of the all-time great relievers closing out the game. Of course, all of these points have not deterred the majority of RABers from advocating the white flag.

Realistically, I don’t see the Yankees as sellers. They’re perennial contenders and I don’t think the organization can philosophically accept the path of concession – in fact, they’ve already brought Alfonso Soriano back. The problem is, even if the team can squeak into the postseason this year, what’s the plan for next year? At some point, the team will have to consider radically revamping the core of the team, especially if many of the anticipated roster changes ultimately happen in 2014.

While trading players for prospects isn’t a sure bet, teams have proven that rebuilding doesn’t have to be an agonizing process – particularly teams with some financial backing. The Red Sox went from awful last season to divisional leaders this year after giving up several of their core players to the Dodgers. If the Yankees wanted to do something similar, they could trade Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, and even Robinson Cano. Some of those guys would net huge returns, especially in this tight market.

Of course, there are complications that cannot be ignored. Kuroda has shown a willingness to block trades. Granderson and Hughes both may be useful pieces next year, while Gardner and Cano are arguably the team’s most important players right now. The hurdles involved with moving these guys is not really the point though. I think the primary point here is whether it makes more sense to take advantage of the seller’s market while the team can capitalize on the return the most. Of course, maybe this is an irrelevant point anyway considering the trade deadline is less than a week away.

Sherman: Alfonso Soriano trade came from ownership
Game 104: A Zone of Danger
  • ajra21

    i’m normally against most trade ideas during the season as i believe they don’t help you long term and that should always be the main focus.

    this year might be different. while our lineup sucks, we might be able to change that without giving much up. we might well suck after this year and for a while so maybe they should go for it.

  • kenthadley

    If this team isn’t in the playoff mix by the end of August (a real possibility) then Hal/Cash need to answer to the fans as to what the strategy is going forward. Not sure how good Cory Black is, but if we throw young talent after 37 year old players just to qualify for a first round knockout, then your points Matt are well taken. I suggested the Red Sox model a few days ago but apparently some folks believe that they had a “unique” opportunity due to the Dodgers need to buy. IMO, this team won’t truly be a championship contender until it is purged of the ARod contract, and maybe some others, if 189 is real.

    • Tim

      Once you get to the playoffs you just need to be hot, not the best team. You get 2 hot pitchers and they have 4-5 good starts and all of a sudden you take home the trophy. The 2nd wild card does make that more challenging but IMO still worth it since any of the 10 teams have a chance.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee

      The Red Sox model, as you put it, is ideal if you have someone willing to buy all your lead and turn it to gold. Last year was an absolute anomoly in that there were 2 1/2 strong buyers in the market in Toronto, LA & Cleveland as the 1/2. I don’t see any such opportunities in the current landscape. The Red Sox tripped and fell into incredibly good fortune, no 2 ways about it.

      Ironically, if you study the recent past, those are the kind of trades that our former Yankees team would be buyers on.

    • BFDeal

      The Yankees’ version of the Red Sox trade would be something along the lines of Arod, Tex, and CC. Maybe you substitute a different player for one of those three, but that would definitely qualify as unique. If you don’t think so, name one team willing to take on those three contracts. Hell, name one team willing to take on two of the three.

      • Preston

        We could have done this last year with the Dodgers when Tex and A-Rod were healthy and CC was good. Maybe we should have. But there is no way anybody is touching them now.

        • Tim

          First, they were leading the division last year. Second there are issues with no trade clauses in dealing them. But otherwise sure it could have been feasible.

        • BFDeal

          It was reported last year that the Dodgers asked about a Tex/CC package, but NY didn’t bite due to the playoff chase. Crystal ball, hindsight, ouiji board, and all that, perhaps they should have done it, but who knows.

  • entonces

    Both buyer and seller be.
    No need, really, to settle on just one course.
    I think Yanks can continue to make a push this year even as they market a few players selectively. Yes, there is some risk that if Hughes is traded, CC and Andy will continue to struggle and Nova will revert. But there is risk in any course, and trading Hughes and perhaps Logan when there is surplus pitching in the organization could make sense. Also might yield a player or two who could help this year and beyond. Of course, trading Kuroda/Cano is far riskier. Personally, I would consider all options that help the team rebuild, even at the cost of lower playoff odds this year. But if they’re smart — and lucky — maybe they can manage both.

  • Laz

    Honestly, I think it might be worth it to sell a bit. Sure they could try to go for it and bring in a few guys, but what about next year? Still stuck with Jeter, Arod, Soriano, Wells, Ichiro. Maybe hope CC fixes something over the winter. They have many valuable pieces in Robertson, Kuroda, Cano, Gardner, Granderson. Maybe even pay some more salary and trade Ichiro and Soriano now. Getting to the 1 game playoff is looking unlikely, sometimes it’s better to cut your losses one year in order to have a stronger team down the line.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Yeah, it is a really odd market…speaking of Alexei Ramirez though…I wonder if he’d be amenable to playing third base?

    • Former ACE MannyGeee

      He won’t be cheap. I am almost positive that if you could prop a rake in a bucket at SS and hang a glove off it in this market, you could probably get a B prospect.

  • Tim

    I agree that that group of players certainly could bring back a haul and would position the team to be under the $189 mill number if they were all traded. But regardless of what talent comes back it would still likely be a team that wouldn’t be in a position to contend in a tough division with no teams appearing likely to take a step back. If those players were traded it is likely that none of them would be back with NY since they wouldn’t have the advantage of offering them a QO to potentially limit their options (obviously not an issue with Cano).

    If they keep those players and offer the QO to Hughes, Kuroda and Granderson they would likely benefit from the return of Kuroda and possibly Granderson. Their team could look like this with a couple of areas that need an upgrade while positioning themselves for the promotion of some of their young talent either at the end of 2014 or 2015. The team could also have more free money depending on Alex’s suspension length.

    CF- Gardner
    SS/DH – Jeter
    DH/?-A signing from Beltran, McCann, Morales
    3B-Who knows
    C-Who knows

    SP-Kuroda, CC, Nova, Phelps, FA signing with Pineda waiting in minors
    RP-Robertson, Kelley, Claiborne, Warren, LHRP (Possibly internal), FA signing for 8th, Betances, Huff

    Plus the options for help from minors would be there in Nuno, Jose Ramirer or Banuelos at end of season

    I think that team could certainly be competitive but would still have some obvious holes to fill in the future. Replacements at SS/3B are needed now and after 2014 the entire OF would need to be replaced. The team will also need to identify 2 more middle of the order hitters for 2015 since Cano will need some help. By making trades now the team would likely be better in 2015 but 2014 may be rough.

  • trr

    That’s the thing…apparently the market is SO tight, we could get more by selling….what to do?

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    That’s not what the Sox did, though. They basically traded A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia, AND received legit prospects.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee

      ONE legit prospect. And a Loney rental. And they still paid money out of pocket.

      It can be done, but it can’t be with:

      No real drunk sailors left in the market
      No one wanting to touch ARod with a 20 foot pole
      Three NTCs to deal with
      An ownership group that has no intents to bail.

      This is what it is.

      • Dalek Jeter

        Yeah, basically. This ain’t the Titanic, it’s some lesser ship that’s less likely to sink (but still pretty likely) that we all are stuck on in the middle of the Atlantic. We’ve gotta ride it out and hope we make it to the otherside.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        I guess Rubby de la Rosa is technically not a prospect, but he was by far the best piece in the deal.

        In fact, if he was all they had gotten bak the Red Sox probably would have considered it a win.

    • Brian S.

      Except Crawford and Gonzalez are producing unlike A-Rod and Teixeira. And the prospects they received back in the deal aren’t really producing.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        They weren’t producing at all at the time of the trade, so I guess I’m missing your point.

        Also, de la Rosa’s been steadily improving as he’s gotten farther out from TJS, and Webster’s stuff is filthy. Both have front of the rotation potential, you almost never get one prospect of that caliber in a straight salary dump

  • CONservative governMENt

    This idea that the Yankees “aren’t sellers” is an organizational weakness. An ‘everything must go’ salary dump is not necessary, but Cashman should be in contact with all the contenders about trades.

    If the Dodgers will give up Seager, Pederson and Urias for Cano then they should do it. If a team likes Hughes enough to give up a worthwhile piece, take it. Same with Chamberlain, Logan…

    The injuries and ARod’s circus make it a perfect opportunity to pull the plug and focus on accumulating young players for the immediate future.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee

      Young players =/= impact for the future more times than not.

      • Former ACE MannyGeee

        Er… Immediate future, I mean.

        • CONservative governMENt

          Agreed, though guys like Seager and Pederson would likely qualify. Trading Hughes would also keep Nova and Phelps in the rotation when Pineda comes up, helping the immediate future even if the prospect return is down the road.

  • http://rab.com Michael Cutler

    Granderson and Hughes important peices, u mean they might bring a couple important peices as in complimentary drat picks. . neither one of those guys wille a Yankee beyond this year unless Granderson takes a discount. .

    • Laz

      Wouldn’t mind Granderson back if on the right deal. He is a great power bat to have in the corner for a few more years.

  • http://rab.com Michael Cutler

    and sorry about the dislexic pieces

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I think you could definitely get that from the Dodgers, then I’d see if the Mets were interested in Gardner, see if you can get Montero and Flores for him. Move Hughes for Chris Owings and Jake Barrett from the Diamondbacks, release Joba Chamberlain.

  • Dan

    I’m glad they’re buyers, they’re close enough to get a wild card spot, and will get reinforcements soon (knock on wood). When those guys come back, they’ll really be a piece or two away from having an average lineup top to bottom.

    Something else w/ the Soriano trade–if everything goes to hell, they can just trade him again. They should be able to get more than they gave up because they have him locked up for reasonable dollars next year (while the cubs had him on an albatross contract).

  • Brian S.

    Imagine what the Yankees could get for Kuroda in this market. It saddens me that ownership cares about presenting the illusion that the Yankees are going to compete to sell a few more tickets this year over making real tangible improvements for the next few seasons during a lost year.

    • Brian S.

      Kuroda is one of the games’ elite. I could see the Yankees acquiring a top 50 and top 100 prospect for him from a team like Atlanta, Oakland, Baltimore, or Texas.

      • Andrew Brotherton

        I think he’d only approve a trade to Oakland. I’d say Grant Green and Sonny Gray for Kuroda

    • Brian S.

      This rule applies to other pieces on the Yankees too…as much as I love Cano and I still do want the Yankees to extend him they could fetch a killing in this market for him and I wouldn’t mind it.

  • yooboo

    Rob Refsnyder is working on 2b in the minor. Why not moving him to SS? He has arm strength and perfect offensive offerings for an above average SS. He could be ready by 2015.

  • Brian S.

    Anyways, I’m glad Matt wrote this. I hope more pieces like this get written about the Yankees the next few days in the media.

  • Masterbatter76

    Kuroda,Cano, and anyone else who could make this team better in the future should be shopped. Hughes should be brought back as he is a good, young pitcher and you don’t let them go unless you are getting real value in return. Trading Hughes now would be selling while his value is low and that is never a good idea. Letting Kuroda retire without getting anything in return would be a big mistake. At least if Cano isn’t traded, the Yanks will get picks when he signs elsewhere. Cano is too inconsistent (very hot or very cold) to give big bucks, long term and try to build a team around.

  • Duh Injuries

    So essentially Cashman has done nothing for this season besides make some idiotic signings?

    Let’s not re-sign Russell Martin for two years at $8.5M a year (a paltry mil raise from 2012 for his 2013 salary) but let’s take on $13.9M of Vernon Wells’ final two years and give hasbeen Ichiro Suzuki two years at $6.5M a year for $13M total and $26.9M for two hasbeen outfielders through 2014.

    Let’s also give oft-injured, mid-30s Kevin Youkilis a year $12M when Eric Chavez could’ve been brought back for the year and $3M he took from Arizona and shared 3B with Adams at a cost of only $3.5M total between them, or 29-year old righthanded power-hitting Mark Reynolds for the year and $6M he took from Cleveland.

    Wait, Pettitte has to receive half a mil shy of QUINTIPLE his 2012 salary for 2013 ($12M from $2.5M) and while we’re at it let’s re-sign Chamberlain for $1.85M but not sign Soria for the $2M he took this year and the paltry $5M he’s taking for next from Texas.

    These are the (bad) moves Cashman has made this offseason, so thank some higher power ownership reacquired Soriano who is better than all the above players Casmman brought in and back because if it were up to Cashman, we’d still have Wells playing LF most days and more importantly no righthanded power.

    When was the last blockbuster trade Cashman pulled off? Or does he only sign guys in the offseason and kick back?

  • Nolan

    They should trade granderson, kuroda, Hughes, joba and cano. Use the prospects they get back to trade for Giancarlo Stanton and a young thirdbaseman.

    Resign cano and sign McCann in the off season


  • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

    I’m not necessarily an advocate of selling,

    But how can you not see the hypocrisy of calling teams like the Phillies, Mariners and Royals in the category of ‘should be sellers” and claim the Yankees are not?

    Apart from the first 5 weeks of the season, the Yanks have shown nothing to indicate they have a better chance than any of those 3 teams.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Well, it’s a good thing those 5 weeks of the season happened and are reflected in their record, meaning that they are still capable of contending, isn’t it?

    • Steve from NJ

      No one ever said the Yanks didn’t belong in the same category. The article is suggesting that the team might be better off selling given the demand.

  • toad

    If it’s a seller’s market the percentage move is to sell. The Yankees are a very long shot to make the post-season. They are seven games behind Boston and eight behind Tampa. Who thinks they are going to win the division?

    Wild card? ell, if they play .586 the rest of the way they will win 88 games, which got St. Louis in last year. The problem again is the crowd in front of them. Besides the division leaders, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Texas all have better records. So there are five contenders for the WC game. Say they are largely equal and the Yankees have a 40% chance of being a WC team.

    All that translates, optimistically, to a smidge better than a 20% chance of being in the division series. Is that enough not to take advantage of a seller’s market? Not to me.