It’s decision time for the Yankees: will the second half welcome a playoff push, or will several major players be leaving the Bronx in a garage sale by next month?
The next two weeks will be a season-defining stretch for the Bombers, who are set to host two divisional rivals in the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles before the MLB-best San Francisco Giants stroll into town. The 10-game homestand will shape the Yankees’ motion to buy or sell by the August 1 trade deadline, bringing forth a number of reasons for fans to scoop up Yankees tickets over the next two weeks at the Stadium.
Perhaps most obvious is the uncertain futures of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Chapman has shined in pinstripes following his 30-game suspension at the beginning of the season and is the most likely candidate to be moved. Pending the right fit, a trade of Chapman would give the Yankees the biggest return of all their potential trade chips. His off-the-field issues may rub many teams the wrong way, but with arguably the best stuff in baseball out of the bullpen, the 28-year-old could be a big piece of the puzzle for a playoff-bound squad come August.
Are we about to witness the last two weeks of Andrew Miller? The southpaw has been vocal about his desire to remain a Yankee, but brass is open to trading the lockdown reliever if the offer is good enough. However, Miller has been nothing short of spectacular for the Yankees this year, and his team-friendly contract of three years at a $9 million AAV may be too sweet to cut from the books.
As for Beltran, the aging slugger has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable Yankees offense. The 39-year-old All-Star leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBI and hits this season. Age is always a factor in the future of a franchise, though, and with knee and hamstring issues bothering Beltran earlier this season, maybe now is the time the Yankees part ways with him for the right price.
Teixeira presents an interesting case on the trade market. Battered by injury over his eight-year tenure in the Bronx, the slugging switch-hitter’s contract comes off the books this winter, but his anemic slash line of .190/.271/.318 through just 59 games this season doesn’t make him a glamorous trade chip. And while his right knee articular cartilage tear earlier this year is a red flag for many teams, his veteran presence could make him a valuable asset by the August 31 deadline to acquire players eligible for playoff rosters. Teixeira has expressed his commitment to the Yankees, however, stating that he’s playing to win rather than cash paychecks at this stage of his career. Of course, he’ll ultimately have the final say in the matter – his full no-trade clause allows him to determine his immediate future in pinstripes.
Still, with trade talks in their infancy stage, the Yankees can mute them all with a successful homestand to begin the second half. A push into a Wild Card spot is not unrealistic, but the first test will come quickly through three likely playoff-bound clubs. It will ultimately be up to them to answer the call or risk watching their postseason hopes dry up in the dog days of summer.