Sorting through the Yankees’ top trade chips

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

The offseason has yet to really get underway, but there has already been talk of the Yankees going on a big spending spree to address their many needs this winter. I’m not sure where that money is coming from after putting together my most recent payroll breakdown, but that’s besides the point. New York has been connected to a ton of free agents so far, both big names like Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo and secondary players like Eric Chavez and Omar Infante. Needless to say, they’re getting around.

Free agency is the easiest way to address needs but it’s not the only way. The Yankees could also explore the trade market, a trade market that will reportedly feature high-end starters like Max Scherzer and David Price, young middle infielders like Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, and pretty much everything in between. The trade market is like free agency — there’s a solution for every roster problem available if you’re willing to meet the asking price.

Therein lies the rub: the Yankees can’t meet too many asking prices these days. Not won’t meet asking prices, can’t. They don’t have many tradeable commodities either on the big league roster or in the farm system, and last winter’s Justin Upton trade talks showed how that can handicap them. The Diamondbacks reportedly did not like the prospects New York had to offer, so the young, power-hitting outfielder signing to a reasonable contract went to the Braves instead.

“I just don’t see it,” said one rival executive to Andy McCullough when asked whether the Yankees had the prospect inventory to swing a major trade this offseason. “I’m not excited about any of them making an impact next year,” added another evaluator while discussing the team’s top prospects while describing them as “solid guys, but not stars.”

The Yankees do have limited trade commodities right now but they aren’t completely devoid of marketable players. Some are just more marketable than others, or, as Brian Cashman likes to say, no one is unavailable but some are more available that others. Here’s a highly subjective rundown of New York’s best trade chips. Remember, at the end of the day, a player’s trade value is only as great as the other team’s evaluation of him.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Best Chip: Ivan Nova
In my opinion, Nova is the team’s best trade chip at this point in time. He turns 27 in January and has shown flashes of brilliance over the last three years. Ivan has not yet put together a full, productive season from start to finish, but he’s had stretches that make you think he could be very good if things ever completely click. It’s also worth noting Nova has thrown at least 150 innings every year since 2010 and at least 130 innings every year since 2008. Teams do value the ability to take the ball every fifth day.

Nova’s trade value is not as great as it was a year or two ago because he’s entering his arbitration years and is no longer dirt cheap, like league minimum dirt cheap. His projected $2.8M salary in 2014 is still a relative bargain, but trading for a guy owed $15M or so over the next three years isn’t as desirable as trading for the same guy when he is owed $16M or so over five years. This isn’t Nova’s fault obviously and getting three cheap years of a durable right-hander is still pretty awesome, but his years of team control are ticking away and he’s yet to really establish himself as … anything. He’s still a question mark.

Rentals: Brett Gardner and David Robertson
Both Gardner and Robertson are due to become free agents next winter, meaning they’re just rental players. Both will earn reasonable salaries next year — Gardner is projected for $4M, Robertson for $5.5M — and they both have their limitations on the field. Gardner is a defense-first outfielder who doesn’t hit for power and doesn’t steal as many bases as people think he can. Robertson is a late-inning reliever, meaning you’re only get 65 or so innings out of him. He’s a very good late-inning reliever of course, but one year of a reliever usually doesn’t fetch a huge package in return. The Yankees could flip these two for solid prospects or a similar rental player, but they’re not going to get that elite prospect or young big leaguer with several years of control remaining.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Warm Bodies: David Phelps and Adam Warren (maybe Vidal Nuno)
There will always be a market for cheap and young pitching. Phelps and Warren have four and five years of team control remaining, respectively, and they’ve had varying levels of success in the show. They’re far from established but have shown they belong in some capacity, either as back-end starters or relievers. Nuno has six full years of control left but is basically a complete unknown at the big league level. He is as close to ready as a pitcher can get, however. Every team needs cheap young arms to fill out a staff, but these guys are okay second and good third pieces in a significant trade, not centerpieces. Far from it.

Prospects: Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, J.R. Murphy and Rafael DePaula
Baseball has become a young player’s game these last five or six years or so, but I think we’ve reached the point where prospects and (especially) draft picks are being overvalued. Don’t get me wrong, they’re important and you need them to succeed, but they’re being valued higher than established big leaguers and that isn’t always the case. Not even close.

Anyway, Sanchez and Murphy are probably the Yankees’ two best prospect trade chips because a) Sanchez is their very best prospect, and b) Murphy is a big league ready-ish catcher. Quality young catchers are very hard to find and teams have consistently shown they will overpay — either in trades or by reaching in the draft — to get their hands on one. DePaula is the team’s best pitching prospect but he’s still in Single-A ball. Heathcott had an up-and-down season in Double-A but has a lengthy injury history. High ceiling but also high risk. Sanchez and Murphy could headline a package for a non-star player, but Heathcott and DePaula are closer to throw-ins in the grand scheme of things.

Suspects: Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Jose Ramirez
Injury of ineffectiveness — Austin, Williams, and Ramirez all had down 2013 seasons for one of those two reasons. Sometimes both. They’re basically buy low candidates, prospects with considerable ceilings who either need to get healthy or fix their mechanics or have their attitude adjusted. If I was another club and talking trade with the Yankees, these are the guys I would be asking for as the final piece in a trade package. Take a shot on one without the deal hinging on their success. There are too many question marks for any of them to be the top guy in a deal for an established big leaguer at this point. I just don’t see how another club would go for that.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Dr. Grenaldine says:

    We need to grow the farm so we can afford to not spend millions of dollars on these types of players…

    Player 1: 28 G, 105 AB, 23 H, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .219 BA, .305 OBP, .648 OPS
    Player 2: 24 G, 72 AB, 12 H, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .167 BA, .388 BA, .693 OPS

    Who is Player 1 and Player 2?

    • Mister D says:

      Player 1: Mike Trout’s 105 worst PAs of the season

      Player 2: Junior Felix, June of his AA ball season

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Felix was terrible on the ’93 Marlins.

      • Dr. Grenaldine says:

        Player 1 made $12 million (1 year contract)
        Player 2 made $5.5 million (1 year contract)

        • Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo says:

          The first one I think is Youk.

          The second Idk. I can’t find anyone who played 24 games. Assuming, of course, it’s a 2013 Yankee

          • Dr. Grenaldine says:

            Oh, sorry for the confusion. Not a 2013 Yankee but within the past couple of years.

            Player 1 – Kevin Youkillis
            Player 2 – Nick Johnson

            • Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo says:

              Ah, cool.

              Johnson’s deal I wasn’t all that against. The money was low. Decent chance he could help us with limited risk when he got injured.

              I still don’t get the Youk deal. Putting all the eggs in one worn down basket. If if/when he gets hurt, no worries, we have an off surgery ARod and a bunch of random guys to rotate through the position.

            • Mac says:

              You can cherry pick guys who got hurt three seasons apart from any team to prove any random point.

              You’re not coming close to proving that FA stinks just because two guys the Yankees signed under different circumstances 3 years apart blew up on them. Not any more than if I took two homegrown players who got injured as proof that you should always sign FAs at every position.

  2. Jason says:

    Nova for Trumbo? Fits both teams needs…

  3. PunkPitch says:

    The good news is that the likelihood of being fleeced in a trade is remote since we have little to offer in the first place.

    • Tisha says:

      I agree . The Yankees farm stinks . And that is solely on Cashman, Oppenhemier and Newman. The farm fell from #11to 18. Meanwhile the Sox have the best farm .
      Why? Because they know how to draft and develop in all the rounds. Newman and Oppenhemier are clueless and Hal grows a pair and fires them and re-vamps the scouting and development , when are the Yankees ever going to have ANY prospects that other teams want ?

      • TCMiller30 says:

        Montero? AJax? Ian Kennedy? Weren’t those guys that we developed not too long ago that other teams wanted?

        The Sox aren’t anything special at developing talent. Unless you’re blown away by Middlebrooks being sent down to AAA this year, or about a month of Xander B at 88 wRC+. If he gets moved from short (Which people think is a very real possibility because of his size) his value will drop a ton too. Who else have they produced in the last 5 years?

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Craig Hansen. You could have just answered with that.

          I feel badly for the productivity you used up on writing such a coherent response.

  4. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I don’t see Nova going anywhere unless someone out there’s got a real mancrush on him.

    I do see the team being minor players on the trade market, and I’d like them to explore 3B options that way. I’m still going to toot the Panda horn, and I think there’s enough here I’m willing to give up (I’m very willing to part ways with Phelps at this point, for example) to get that sort of trade done. Phelps/Nuney/Almonte for Panda/Kontos? My trade proposal sucks.

    There’s going to be smaller stuff as well. If the Yanks don’t go real cheap on corner depth, what is David Adams’ role? He’s probably not willing to do another release/re-sign deal, and a couple of the catchers are going to be gone. None of these guys get you more than fringy relievers, of course, but fringy relievers can turn into Shawn Kelley sometimes, or at least get you a decent season of Cory Wade.

    Good write-up. It is what it is.

  5. Preston says:

    I don’t know why the team would even consider trading Gardner, Nova or Robertson. I’d be willing to part with one of Phelps or Warren, but I doubt the return would be what we would want. Gary Sanchez would be a non-starter, his catcher D is much improved and he has elite offensive talent, he could be the next great home grown Yankee. Murphy is expendable if we’re planning on bringing in a FA catcher. But if we aren’t I think they need to hold onto him. I’d rather not sell low on Austin, Heathcott and Williams, but if a team is willing to value them like they were top 100 prospects I’d be willing to move them. As for DePaula and Ramirez I’d be actively shopping both TINSTAPP.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      It’s more a survey of chips. I’d say at least 80% of these guys are still Yanks on Opening Day.

      You’d have to REALLY like DRob or Nova for me to pry them loose. I’m more open to Gardner due to age and contract status.

    • Mac says:

      I would argue that you have to consider trading any player on your team. If just depends on the offer. If you get more value than you give, why wouldn’t you make a trade?

      You’re commenting on all those player’s values to the Yankees, but ignoring the value that’s coming back in return. You have to consider both to evaluate a trade.

      So I would definitely listen to offers for Gardner and Robertson and Sanchez.

  6. Karen says:

    Yankees need some high quality pitchers for 2014.

  7. Wayne says:

    Keep Murphy till Peter O’brien is ready. Peter and Gary would be a great catching duo to have. Peter could be another Jorge Posada type player!

  8. Eddard says:

    Nova’s the ace of the staff. You don’t trade your ace unless you get a ballplayer like a Trout in return. CC is a #3. They need to sign Tanaka as a #2. BGDP, Warren, others will compete for the last 2 spots. Robertson is a closer. You don’t trade him.

  9. MannyGeee says:

    well, it is what it is I suppose.

  10. greg says:

    What you see is what we are. No trades likely.

  11. John says:

    this is what happens when you have long standing executives with insular organizational relationships – a bunch of Peter Principle desk fillers/check cashers. Fire Cashman and his worthless cronies…

    • Havok9120 says:

      Oh, God, we’re taking the Cashman hate in this direction now?

      You’re a few years late. After all, the Boss was famous for giving out positions in the Yankee hierarchy to people he liked whether they were qualified for their low-mid level post or not.

  12. John says:

    Looks like they have enough to acquire Vernon Wells… wait – what?

  13. Revan says:

    Why are we always buyers? We have little flexibility on trades or free agents and we require almost a complete overhaul…

    They need to sell, tank and pray that they develop the next bunch of homegrown stars. Shelling out for McCann will do what exactly?

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      The fuck? Are we the damn Tampa Bay Rays now?

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Did you know that, since 12:01 AM, whateverthefuck the day after the 2009 WS ended was, the Yankees and Rays have won the same number of championships?

        I love it when they play that game.

        Also, you’re way too angry for a guy whose FF team is 8-2 right now, peckerhead.

    • MannyGeee says:

      ‘They need to sell, tank and pray that they develop the next bunch of homegrown stars’

      Welcome to!

      The fuck outta here….

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        You just described the best possible day on MetsBlog, the one before the rebuild attempt begins to crumble. The last time this happened was the day before the 2000 World Series began.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Why are we always buyers?


      The farm isn’t as productive as they thought it would be.

      • Mac says:

        I would argue that’s not it. Even when the farm is productive, the Yankees are still buyers. When they’re producing guys like AJax, IPK, Melancon, Melky, Arodys, on and on back for decades… they often trade them for veterans. I would argue that it’s largely location coupled with the historical success of the organization which has created a global brand: the Yankees have more money than all the other teams. A strategy of buying talent makes a lot of sense when your big advantage is money. They’ve had the luxury of trading prospects who may or may not work out for vets who are fairly likely to work out and of overpaying veteran stars who have been healthy and productive their whole careers up until that point.

        They’ve also just had a huge run of success where they had no reason to sell. If you’re going to win 95 games next season, why would you blow it up to rebuild?

    • Havok9120 says:

      I have no problem with you holding this opinion except that you seem to believe there’s a button labeled “REBUILD” on the underside of Hal’s desk which he can hit and, instantly, a three/four year plan will snap into place and we’ll win a championship by 2019.

      It doesn’t work that way. There are teams which have been in rebuild mode for most of the last decade. Your entire “plan” is predicated on prospect luck and waiting for contracts to expire, which isn’t a plan so much as you saying “I want a younger and better team. Make it happen!”

      • MannyGeee says:

        Also, The Pirates have been rebuilding for 2 decades, went all in this season and got thumped in the first round. There is no magic bullet for the rebuild, and there’s alot more failure in rebuilding than there is successes.

        • Pat D says:

          I wouldn’t say they were “thumped.” It went 5 games, and they were up 2-1. They just weren’t as good as a team that once again choked against Boston and who has my eternal hatred except for when they are in the World Series against a team I hate more than them, which is what has happened the last 4 times that team has made the World Series.

        • nycsportzfan says:

          Went all in? They are gonna be contending for yrs to come. Look at the nucleus of McCuthen, Alvarez, Walker, Cole, and Marte. Its incredible!

          • Mac says:

            It’s a good core (that took 2 decades to build as someone pointed out), but baseball isn’t really about a core. Helps a lot, but the Ms were one of the lesser teams in the league a few years back with a core that included Felix, Cliff Lee, Fister, Vargas, and Ichiro.

            The Pirates had some unexpected career year type performances that they’re going to have to replace somehow as they probably aren’t happening again. I’m not saying that they can’t do it, but it’s far from assured that they’ll be contending for years to come. If Burnett retires (or just isn’t a 4 fWAR P in 2014), Liriano turns back into an injury prone pumpkin, Melancon joins him as a pumpkin, Martin and Alvarez don’t have the defensive seasons of his lives, Mercer isn’t actually a 113 wRC+ guy… they could be very mediocre again. The Pirates arguably had as much good luck in 2013 as the Red Sox.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Hell, the Pirates were in that mode since Bonds and Bonilla.

      • qwerty says:

        If the yankees had sold Granderson, Gardner, Nova, Hughes, Joba, Swisher, and Cano last season, or so, they had the potential to be set for the foreseeable future. It’s not hard, it just takes the will to do it. The only one out of that group that would not have been replaceable is Granderson, but at least a portion of his home runs would have been partially replaced by the acquisition of Soriano in the offseason, another move Cashman did not have the will to make.

        • Mac says:

          They could potentially be set or they could have potentially gotten a bunch of guys who didn’t work out or anywhere between. You have traded like 1/2 their team and have made zero reference to what you traded them all for.

  14. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I see the “I only pay attention to the very few fire sale efforts that work, and not to the ones that sink a franchise for years” crew has arrived. There’s purposely-shitty beer in the fridge, and Erica left the cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes too long…..on purpose, of course. Help yourselves.

  15. Dan says:

    If they miss out on the top FAs, they should just go into rebuild mode. Trade Gardy, D-Rob, and a really cheap Soriano (totally worth what the Yanks are paying him this season, so they’ll be able to get much more than they paid) and rebuild.

    • jj says:

      Not that I agree with rebuild, but with this method they would also have 4 draft picks (if all QO resign with other teams). I have no faith in them drafting and developing anything of quality.

      • Dan says:

        I generally agree with you, but last year’s draft gave me hope that someone knows what they’re doing. Hopefully there are changes in the development system still to come, which would make this plan successful.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Even if they did, we couldn’t reasonably expect to see even the successful draftees for at least three to five years.

        Is our plan really to be uncompetitive until ARod’s contract expires? If people think 189 is going to tank attendance and ratings, what do you think that plan will do?

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Win us eight championships when the Yanks develop Derek Weter, Fariano Rivera, Mandy Mettitte, and Jorge Rosada at the end.

  16. nycsportzfan says:

    I’m still interested in Jeff Samardzia in a trade. I think he makes a ton of sense for us. We should have the chips for a additon like that. Maybe a Gary Sanchez/David Phelps/Preston Claiborne gets it done or something like that? Then you go sign Tanaka, and maybe a guy like Maholm, and you could have a really deep rotation. Samardzija is one player i think makes sense and the yanks should be able to get in on, if trade rumours are indeed, true.


    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I don’t think we have the chips right now for a pitcher like that.

      I’m almost glad, in some ways, that we don’t have enough for the overpay that would happen for a Samardzija or, God forbid, a Scherzer, whose value would be at an all-time peak right now.

      In a vacuum, though, I’d be fine with that rotation.

      • Pat D says:

        Get out of the vacuum. You can’t live there.

      • nycsportzfan says:

        Also, the rotation could have Pineda ready to join at a moments notice. There would be a ton of upside with Samardzija, Pineda, Nova, and Tanaka. The best part is, i really believe we could match up with the cubs. Samardzija isn’t a number 1, and if we can’t muster up enough chips for a 2nd/3rd rotation starter, we really need to get the system figured out..

    • Mac says:

      I don’t know that the Cubs are trading Samardzija. He’s cheap for another two years and they’re in a major market where they should be able to extend him easily. I don’t think Epstein is in a major market with a storied team to drag out this rebuild forever. Would probably take a really perfect fit where Epstein just happens to love someone offered, or a major overpay.

      I’m not big on Maholm at #5. MLBTradeRumors has him at a $7 mill salary for next season. I think that the Yankees can count on similar production from whoever emerges of the in-house candidates at the league minimum.

  17. Jimmy says:

    Is Austin Romine without any value now or just being overlooked? He’d be a sell-low type of prospect at best right now but he must still have some value.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      You probably get another fringy AAA reliever type. Not the worst thing.

      • Jimmy says:

        He probably has more value to the Yankees as at least the new Chris Stewart. He showed some flashes of being able to bat at points last year.

        • MannyGeee says:

          I agree, he’s more valuable to the Yankees as a BUC/”CCs Personal Catcher” than he is in any trade scenarios.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Exactly. Depending on how Cervelli is viewed, he’s currently the Opening Day “once per week” BUC or the Opening Day “3 of 6 days” BUC.

          Either way, probably more valuable to us than other teams until the catching market dries up later in the offseason.

  18. Mac says:

    They may not have the pieces to go after the very top of the market, but those trades are the exception rather than the rule. Obviously positional fit and a team’s valuation of any individual player are always issues, but Gary Sanchez should be enough to get the conversation started on like 95% of guys on the trade market.

    I don’t love the Upton example. Towers really painted himself into a corner. He basically forced his own hand by running Upton out of town and then really limited his market with very precise demands. I think the Yankees could match the talent, just not the fit. I remember hearing he was looking for a 3B for the longest time. If all you’re willing to trade Upton for in an MLB ready 3B… there are only a few guys available who will actually fit your demands. And then Towers seemed to place a higher value on Delgago than the consensus.

    I think the Yankees have to buy-low a little bit themselves to really make the most out of this off-season. You have to look for those good fits positionally whose current teams are lower on them than you are. Not the David Prices of the market who you are paying at best market price and at worst a premium for just to turn around and pay big money.

  19. Trthhurts says:

    Three issues to ponder:
    1) Could Cashman stop speaking cool, coy and condensensing…this is left for winners…the major league team and minor talent lose. Hiis Billy Beane aspirations failed…now spend the dough. he is not a baseball man, he is a silver spoon who got the job cause his dad was George’s horse pal.
    2. Everyone predicts Jeter will leave on top of his game, with class..a la Bary Sanders. this year will tell, will he be a Mariano or dare I say…an AROD.
    3. living in Tampa..could the rehabers and minor leaguers spend less time at strip club row and Ybor City, located within a few miles of five star rehab hotel and more time in the Bronx. let’s move the system to Bumblef..k and watch them race back to the Bronx. Pineda and the DWI crew need some tough love.

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