Thoughts following the 2015 trade deadline

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon, the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline came and went with a lot of rumors, but ultimately no moves by the Yankees. They did pick up Dustin Ackley on Thursday, but that’s all, just the one small move. The lack of trade deadline activity was … unexpected. I have some thoughts.

1. I’ve been saying for weeks I expected the Yankees to make a move or three before the trade deadline, but it didn’t happen, and I’m really surprised. I figured the combination of sitting atop the AL East and missing the postseason the last two years would spring Brian Cashman & Co. into action to try to get whatever help they could to make sure they get back to the playoffs this year. Know what I mean? They don’t want to spend another October at home. The restrain was pretty impressive. The Yankees said they weren’t going to trade their top prospects and they stuck to their guns. It would have been very easy to give up, say, Luis Severino for David Price and go for the kill, but it didn’t happen. Unexpected!

2. Now, that said, was hanging on to every last top prospect the right move? That’s debatable. I’m in the camp that thinks the Yankees have a wonderful opportunity in front of them — seriously, can you expect Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to hit like this again next year? — and they should have been willing to trade a top or prospect or two to bolster with an impact player, say Price or Ben Zobrist or whoever. I’m glad the Yankees were willing to make Jorge Mateo available for Craig Kimbrel for a few reasons, including the fact shortstop is a position of depth in the system. The Yankees literally have more shortstop prospects than roster spots — guys like Abi Avelino, Angel Aguilar (when healthy), and Yonauris Rodriguez have been stuck playing second or third base this summer — with more on the way thanks to last summer’s international spending spree. (Also, Mateo is sooo far away from MLB. He’s not going to have an impact anytime soon and lots can go wrong.) Every report indicated the Yankees wouldn’t move their upper level prospects and me, personally, I would have been more open to moving them at the trade deadline given the team’s current situation. When the unwillingness to trade prospects gets in the way of getting someone like Price, yeah, maybe that’s going to a little too.

3. Not getting some kind of pitching depth before the deadline was really, really risky. Every pitcher ever is at risk of getting hurt, that’s the nature of the business, though it feels like the Yankees are more at risk than most. Michael Pineda is already on the DL. CC Sabathia has had his knee drained twice this season already. Masahiro Tanaka has his whole elbow situation. Ivan Nova‘s working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Nathan Eovaldi is their most reliable starter right now and, as we saw last night, completing six innings is a challenge. Another starter to protect against injury and soak up some innings really would have been appreciated. And ace would have been awesome! But an innings guy like Mike Leake or even J.A. Happ would have worked. The Yankees are one more pitching injury from having some big problems. They’re already stretched thin as it is.

IPK. (Presswire)
IPK. (Presswire)

4. I have to think the Yankees will be keeping a really close eye on the August waiver trade market for pitching depth. More than usual. Both the Padres and White Sox did not make any trades yesterday because they feel they still have a run in them, but I can’t imagine that will last. How could it? Rental pitchers Ian Kennedy and Jeff Samardzija figure to be available at some point, especially Kennedy because he’s not a qualifying offer candidate. Yovani Gallardo, Bartolo Colon, and Aaron Harang are other August trade candidates. Obviously some of these guys are more desirable than others. (The issue with waiver trades is that teams below the Yankees in the standings can claim players just to block them from going to New York. So, for example, what are the odds the Blue Jays don’t claim Samardzija? Basically zero.) I’m just really worried about the rotation and the pitching staff in general. Hopefully everyone stays healthy in the second half, but man, I really wish the Yankees were able to bring in another starter before the deadline yesterday. What they have available right now feels like the bare minimum. It’s juuust enough to get by if everything breaks right.

5. As for the Ackley pickup … meh. Not really a needle-mover. Ackley’s a slight upgrade over Garrett Jones because he’s better defensively and can play second base, though he’s less likely to run into the occasional short porch homer. Ackley is several years younger — which means he has more “upside,” as people like to say — and is under contractual control for a few extra seasons. It’s certainly not difficult to understand why they replaced Jones with Ackley. Both Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez will be out of minor league options next year and the Yankees didn’t figure to have a spot for either, so they consolidated the assets, turned them into something else, and started to clear up the a 40-man roster logjam. The team has a frickin’ ton of outfielders and relievers in the upper levels of the minors. They dealt from a surplus for sure. It’s a boring yet fair trade that doesn’t figure to have much noticeable on-field impact. If you’re upset about this one, maybe take a step back and chill out for a bit.

6. I could be wrong, but it seems like the Yankees are going to stick with the Stephen Drew/Brendan Ryan platoon at second base for the foreseeable future. Rob Refsnyder‘s not going to come up and take over on an everyday basis anytime soon. That could change in an instant, I have a hard time thinking Ryan will hit like this much longer, but right now the plan seems to be Drew and Ryan. The Yankees have been hesitant to use Refsnyder this year, almost certainly because of his defense, so if they don’t call him up soon to play second, I’m not sure he’ll get another opportunity this year unless there’s an injury. Heck, even Ackley might be ahead of Refsnyder on the depth chart at this point. Maybe next year will be the year for Refsnyder.

Yankees designate Garrett Jones for assignment

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

Earlier today, the Yankees designated first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones for assignment, the team announced. The move clears a roster spot for the recent acquired Dustin Ackley. Joe Girardi confirmed Ackley will fill the same role as Jones: seldom-used backup outfielder and backup first baseman, plus he’ll take some grounders at second.

Jones, 34, hit .215/.257/.361 (67 wRC+) with five homers in only 152 plate appearances this season. He had a brutal start to the season — 6-for-40 (.150) in the team’s first 41 games — but kinda sorta picked it up of late, hitting .240/.288/.413 (92 wRC+) in his last 111 plate appearances. Jones did hit one huge home run this season, so thanks for that.

The Yankees acquired Jones in the Nathan EovaldiMartin Prado trade this past offseason and still owe him the rest of his $5M salary, which is a relative drop in the bucket. Brian Cashman explained they replaced Jones with Ackley because Ackley is younger, more versatile, and under team control beyond this season.

Yanks make no trades, instead stand pat at the deadline

Kimbrel. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Kimbrel. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

As reported by Jack Curry and Joel Sherman, and later confirmed by Brian Cashman, the Yankees did not make a trade prior to today’s 4pm ET trade deadline. Their only move was yesterday’s Dustin Ackley pickup. The Yankees reportedly offered Jorge Mateo for Craig Kimbrel at some point, but the Padres didn’t respond. There weren’t many rumors besides that, though the team does tend to keep things quiet.

“I approached this deadline with discipline but at the same time with aggressiveness. We could not find a match. In most cases it was our opponents trying to peel away the Judges, the Severinos,” said Cashman to Sweeny Murti, Mark Feinsand and Erik Boland this afternoon. “I’m doubling down on what we’ve got … It’s all hands on deck from our system.”

That’s not lip service either — top pitching prospect Luis Severino is coming up to make his MLB debut and join the rotation next week. That’s fun, but, at the same time, the rotation has a 4.36 ERA, ranking 23rd out of the 30 clubs. All seven teams with a worse rotation ERA are non-contenders. Furthermore, the staff is averaging just 5.78 innings per start, 21st in MLB and tenth out of the 15 AL clubs.

Pitching help was an obvious need, if only to provide some depth and protect against injury. Michael Pineda (elbow) is on the DL and both Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) and CC Sabathia (knee) are perpetual concerns. Adding an ace like Johnny Cueto and David Price would have been great! But even an innings eater like, say, Mike Leake would have helped. The Yankees left themselves very susceptible to injury.

The Angels and Yankees were the only AL contenders to not add meaningful pieces at the deadline. Most notably, the division rival Blue Jays (David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe) and Orioles (Gerardo Parra, Junior Lake) shored up areas of need. Then again, the Yankees do have a six-game lead over both Toronto and Baltimore, which is nice with just about two-thirds of the season complete.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Friday

Kimbrel. (Presswire)
Kimbrel. (Presswire)

Today’s the day. Specifically, 4pm ET is the time. Teams have until 4pm ET today to make non-waiver trades, which means there figures to be a flurry of activity in the next few hours even though big names like Johnny Cueto, David Price, and Troy Tulowitzki have already been moved. The Yankees made a relatively minor trade yesterday, sending Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez to the Mariners for Dustin Ackley.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week we learned the Yankees are in the market for pitching help, both starters and relievers, but they’re not willing to give up their top prospects. They’ve been connected to all sorts of pitchers the last few days but those pitchers keep getting traded elsewhere. Hopefully they reel one or two in today, preferably a starter. They really need rotation help. We’ll keep tabs on all of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, as usual.

  • 4:37pm ET: The Yankees were not only willing to include Jorge Mateo in a Craig Kimbrel trade, they also offered to take back Jedd Gyorko and his disaster contract. They never got an answer from the Padres, apparently. [Heyman]
  • 3:53pm ET: The Yankees are expected to stand pat at the deadline. Weak, if true. [Nightengale]
  • 3:28pm ET: The Yankees told the Padres they were willing to trade Jorge Mateo for Craig Kimbrel, but San Diego hasn’t responded. The assumption is Kimbrel is going elsewhere. [Rosenthal, Sherman]
  • 3:22pm ET: Once again, the Yankees and Padres have “no traction” for a Craig Kimbrel trade. They have had “no talks” recently. [Rosenthal, Sherman]
  • 3:02pm ET: Should the Craig Kimbrel deal not happen, the Yankees won’t work out a smaller trade involving Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy. [Sherman]
  • 2:05pm ET: In addition to Jorge Mateo, the Padres would also want a pitcher back from the Yankees for Craig Kimbrel. [Sweeny Murti]
  • 1:56pm ET: The Yankees believe the Padres are working on a bigger trade involving Craig Kimbrel. Apparently San Diego will not trade Kimbrel to New York unless Jorge Mateo is in the deal. [Sherman]
  • 12:33pm ET: Apparently talks with the Padres for Craig Kimbrel broke down yesterday and have not been revived. They haven’t talked today. That’s why the Yankees are looking at guys like Carter Capps. [Rosenthal, Olney]
  • 12:21pm ET: The Yankees are the team in the “hottest” pursuit of Craig Kimbrel. It sure seems like the plan is to add another elite reliever. [Rosenthal]
  • 11:00am ET: The Marlins have coveted Greg Bird and would probably ask for him in a potential Carter Capps trade. I can’t see that happening given the Yankees’ reluctance to trade their close to MLB top prospects. [Joe Frisaro]
  • 10:56am ET: Although the Yankees did indeed check in, a trade for Aroldis Chapman is “not likely” to happen. Womp womp. That would have been fun. [Heyman]
  • 10:36am ET: The Yankees don’t like the idea of trading Jorge Mateo for a reliever, even one as good as Craig Kimbrel. If they do trade Mateo, they’re more likely to do so for a starting pitcher or everyday position player. [Sherman]
  • 10:12am ET: The Yankees continue to look for rotation help but feel “doubtful.” They believe Severino, Adam Warren, and Bryan Mitchell could hold down the fort in the second half if necessary. [Sherman]
  • 9:53am ET: The Yankees would consider trading Jorge Mateo but not top prospects closer to MLB like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. That makes sense, I guess. Also, if they are willing to trade Mateo, they could seek more in return from the Padres than just Craig Kimbrel. It would also open doors to other deals. [Sherman]
  • 9:51am ET: The Yankees are talking to the Marlins about setup man Carter Capps, the guy with the jumpy delivery. That would be fun to watch, if nothing else. [Stark, Heyman]
  • 9:44am ET: The Yankees are one of five teams “aggressively” pursuing Aroldis Chapman, who would take over as closer. This all sounds like posturing — the price is too high for Kimbrel so we’ll say we’re in on Chapman, the Yankees aren’t offering enough for Kimbrel so we’ll get the Astros involved, etc. [Bob Nightengale]
  • 9:31am ET: The Yankees and Padres worked overnight on a Craig Kimbrel trade that would send a “good” prospect to San Diego with New York taking on all of the $28M or so left on Kimbrel’s contract. The Padres are looking for a young shortstop and have sought Jorge Mateo, who is supposedly off limits. Other clubs, specifically the Astros, are talking to the Padres about Kimbrel as well. [Rosenthal, Stark, Heyman, Buster Olney]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees remain interested in both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, but the prices are high. They want to add an impact pitcher however they can, and adding a reliever would allow them to more easily put Adam Warren in the rotation. [Joel Sherman, Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark]
  • The Yankees are one of several teams in pursuit of Yovani Gallardo, who they faced last night. Gallardo didn’t pitch too well last night but he’s had a strong season overall. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Giants are also in on Gallardo, though San Francisco may be out of the picture after acquiring Mike Leake late last night. [Jon Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Trade Deadline Mailbag: Reyes, Puig, Guerrero, Gordon, Cashner, Carrasco

The trade deadline is just about 24 hours away now. We’ve got a lot in the hopper for tomorrow between deadline stuff and Yankeemetrics and series previews and whatnot, so the options were post the mailbag a day early or not at all this week. I went with the former. Here’s a trade deadline focused six-question mailbag.

Weird. (Presswire)
Weird. (Presswire)

Dan asks: What do you think about the Yanks getting Jose Reyes to play 2nd? Yes, he’s having a down year, but he’d be a large upgrade over Stephen Drew. 2nd requires less range that SS, so his defense could rebound (after the early hiccups with him learning a new position). It’s a lot of money, but he’s only signed for 2 more years — his contract comes off the books the same time as A-Rod‘s and CC Sabathia‘s.

I fully expect the Rockies to flip Reyes at some point, either at the trade deadline or in the offseason. Keeping him doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Reyes is hitting .285/.325/.385 (95 wRC+) this year after hitting .287/.328/.398 (105 wRC+) last year, and his speed is nowhere near what it once was. He’s stolen 17 bases this year and has zero triples. That’s not surprising though — Reyes is 32 and he’s had a ton of leg injuries over the years. The speed wasn’t going to stay forever. There are two years and $48M left on his contract after the season, so he’s very expensive, especially for a guy who is probably hitting eighth or ninth in the Yankees’ lineup. Reyes has experience playing second base — the Mets moved him to second in deference to Kaz Matsui back in the day, if you can believe that — but he hasn’t played there since 2004. A move back might not be so smooth. I think this is one to avoid. Peak Reyes was the most exciting player in MLB, but right now you’re buying nothing but downside.

Brian asks: Any interest in Yasiel Puig and what would be needed to get it done?

Yes! Bring me Puig. The guy is 24, he’s hitting .254/.326/.433 (114 wRC+) during his “down” year, and is owed just $24.6M through 2018. We’re all hoping Aaron Judge one day turns into Puig. That said, there are legitimate makeup and clubhouse concerns with Puig (read this), and the Yankees usually stay away from those players. The Dodgers were reportedly listening to offers for Puig, though I’m not sure that means much. Every team listens to offers for every player. Jon Heyman says the Dodgers told Puig they aren’t trading him, for what it’s worth. Based purely on his talent, production, and contract, Puig is an “empty the system” guy. Multiple top prospects would have have to be involved. He’s a star whose value transcends on-field production — Puig puts butts in the seats and sells merchandise. You can’t take your eyes off the guy.

Zac asks: Is Alex Guerrero a realistic trade target for the Yankees? He offers the similar IF/OF versatility to Ben Zobrist and has shown some power, and doesn’t have a position in LA.

Guerrero is a realistic target in the sense that he is available, but he’s not very good at all. He smashed a bunch of homers in April and has been a total zero since, hitting .206/.232/.368 (65 wRC+) since the calendar flipped to May. Guerrero has played third base and left field this year but is really a DH because he’s an awful defender. He’s versatile in that he can stand at different positions, but he’s a liability in the field. There are two years and $10M left on Guerrero’s contract after the season and he can actually opt-out of the deal if traded, but would he top that on the open market? I doubt it. Unless you believe in the bat long-term, I don’t see much appeal here at all. How does Guerrero help the Yankees? “He’s not Brendan Ryan or Stephen Drew” isn’t a good answer.

Carrasco. (Presswire)
Carrasco. (Presswire)

Dustin asks: Indians are apparently willing to part with Carlos Carrasco. I know the Yankees are suppose to be targeting rentals, but isn’t he someone they should be in on. What would it take to get him?

Yes, they should be in on Carrasco if he is indeed available. (From the sound of it, the Indians floated his name to gauge his value, but would need to be blown away to move him.) The 28-year-old has a 3.17 ERA (2.47 FIP) with incredible strikeout (28.3%), walk (5.0%), and ground ball (49.6%) rates in 187.1 innings since moving into the rotation last year, and he’s signed dirt cheap ($19M from 2016-18 with options for 2019 and 2020). The track record is on the short side, yeah, but Carrasco has been dominant since moving into the rotation and he’s incredibly affordable. It would take a massive haul to get him. I’m thinking at least two top prospects plus two or three other pieces, some of which have to be MLB ready. If I’m the Indians, I want Judge and Luis Severino in the package. If the Yankees say no, big deal, I’ll hang on to my prime-age cost-controlled low-level ace.

Albert: Would you trade Rob Refsnyder and Gary Sanchez for a guy like Dee Gordon?

In a vacuum, yes, that trade seems fair to me. (Which, of course, means it favors the Yankees and the Marlins wouldn’t do it.) Gordon just came back from his dislocated thumb and he’s hitting .307/.338/.392 (106 wRC+) in over 1,000 plate appearances since the start of last year. He’s good now. He runs a high BABIP (.367 since 2014) because he puts the ball in play (16.4 K%) and is fast as hell. Gordon has also developed into an above-average defensive second baseman after making the transition from shortstop. He’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2018 — his arbitration salaries will be on the high side because stolen bases pay — and is solidly a 3-4 WAR player at this point of his career. Gordon would be a wonderful pickup even if he only bats ninth and serves as a “second” leadoff man. I don’t think the Marlins will make him available though. He’s a building block going forward.

Chris asks: Do you think Andrew Cashner is a fit? If so, what do you think it would take to get him if the Padres are in true sell mode?

I do think he’s a fit in the sense Cashner is a pitcher and the Yankees could really use one. I don’t think he’s a difference-maker like David Price or Cole Hamels — few are, of course — but he’s a quality arm who’d boost the rotation. Cashner has some Edwin Jackson in him, meaning he has tremendous stuff but not the results to match, and everyone seems to think they can be the team to unlock his potential. Nathan Eovaldi fits in that group as well, though Cashner is three years older and has a much scarier injury history. As I wrote in our Scouting The Market post, two organizational top ten prospects — guys more in the 6-10 range than the 1-5 range — seems like the potential asking price for Cashner based on similar trades.

Reports: David Price heading to Blue Jays

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays are set to acquire David Price from the Tigers. Top pitching prospect Daniel Norris and top outfield prospect Anthony Alford are part of the package heading back to Detroit. It’s unclear what other players are involved at this point.

The Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago and they haven’t been to the postseason since 1993, so they have every reason to go all-in. GM Alex Anthopoulos is surely feeling the heat. Toronto is seven games back of the Yankees in the AL East — they still have 13 head-to-head games remaining — but only two games back of the second wildcard spot. Their +100 run differential is the best in the AL and second best in MLB.

The Yankees reportedly pursued Price while remaining unwilling to part with their top prospects, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino specifically, meaning they had little chance to acquire the ace left-hander. I think they should have made their top prospects available, particularly Severino, but the Yankees disagreed. I’m just a guy with a blog. What do I know. Price sure would have looked nice in pinstripes though.

With Price, Scott Kazmir, and Johnny Cueto off the board, the best available pitchers are Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, and Ian Kennedy. Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma may or may not be available as well. The Yankees need pitching, it’s becoming more obvious with each passing game, so hopefully they reel someone in before the deadline tomorrow. Whoever it is, they won’t be as good as Price.

Update: Alford is not in the trade. The Tigers are getting three lefties: Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt. An equivalent Yankees package would be something like Severino, Bryan Mitchell, and healthy Ian Clarkin. Ballpark estimate, not exact.

Yankees wouldn’t have to sacrifice the future for David Price, just part of it

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

David Price is available. After days and weeks of sitting on the fence, the Tigers finally decided it was time to take a step back and “reboot,” which means Price and the rest of their rental players are available. “We’re looking at it more as rebooting going into next season. I think our foundation is solid going forward,” said GM Dave Dombrowski to Joel Sherman.

Earlier today we heard the Yankees are one of four serious contenders for Price, which makes total sense. He’s right smack in the prime of his career, he’s a rental, he throws hard, he misses bats, he limits walks, he soaks up innings, he’s left-handed, he’s had success in the AL East, he’s 6-foot-6 … if Brian Cashman could go into a lab to create a starting pitcher, he’d create David Price. He’s everything the Yankees look for in a pitcher.

Of course, acquiring Price won’t be easy, especially since the Yankees continue to insist they will not trade their top prospects. That means Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, Greg Bird, and who knows who else. Cashman & Co. could very well be posturing — or maybe they are sincere about not trading prospects (until ownership gets involved) — because every team says they will hold on to their top prospects this time of year. You won’t give up your top prospects until you do.

So what will it take to get Price? The Reds were nice enough to set the market for a rental ace recently. The Johnny Cueto trade a few days ago netted them the Royals’ first round pick from a year ago (Brandon Finnegan) plus two players MLB.com recently ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 8 (Cody Reed) and No. 20 (John Adam) prospects. One high-end MLB ready player plus two prospects. There’s the cost. Price might require more because he hasn’t had elbow scare this year like Cueto, but that’s in the ballpark.

Whatever the package ends up being, it’ll hurt to get someone like Price. You don’t make a trade for a star caliber player without it hurting. The Yankees want to hold onto their top prospects, I get that, but it’s possible to make a trade for Price sacrificing the future. Why? Because the Yankees wouldn’t have to trade all of their top prospects to get him. They’d have to sacrifice some of their future, not all of it. I feel like that gets overlooked much of the time.

As the Cueto trade showed, it doesn’t take two or three top prospects to get a rental ace. It takes one. One plus some other guys who are pretty good but not deal-breakers. The cool thing about New York’s farm system now is that so many of their top prospects are already in Triple-A, so even if the Yankees do deal one of those players, they have others on the cusp of helping. The only real exception is Mateo, who is still down in Low-A.

The Tigers have no use for Bird with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez signed for all eternity — unless they plan to flip him, but that seems like a lot of work — but, if Detroit wants him, the Yankees should absolutely deal him. Bird is the worst — worst being a relative term, of course — of the club’s top prospects, and the guy who has like a 50/50 chance of being a platoon DH is not someone you make untouchable. With Yoenis Cespedes set to become a free agent, I’m sure Judge would be very appealing. Severino? Everyone needs pitching. Judge and Severino seem like the key pieces here.

One thing to keep in mind is Price is much more valuable to some other teams than the Yankees. New York has a nice six-game lead in the AL East. They have some margin for error. Other clubs — specifically Price suitors like the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays — do not. They’re all locked in tight postseason races, so adding those two or three extra wins from Price will greatly increase their playoff chances. Price will help the Yankees. He’ll help other teams more, which could inflate his price. There’s that little bit of extra motivation to get him.

The Yankees showed they are able to make meaningful upgrades without trading top prospects at the deadline last year, though Price is a special case because he’s an elite player. I think the Yankees did the right thing the last two years by not trading away their top prospects, mostly because they weren’t serious contenders from 2013-14, but the 2015 Yankees are different. This team is ready to win, and Price would be a significant upgrade. This is precisely why you want to have multiple high-end prospects, so you can move one for a guy like Price to boost a postseason push without completely selling out the future.