2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Monday

Hamels. (David Banks/Getty)
Hamels. (David Banks/Getty)

The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline is this coming Friday at 4pm ET. The Yankees are currently 55-42 with a +34 run differential on the season, giving them a 6.5-game lead in the AL East. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at a healthy 93.1%. Despite that, the roster could use some reinforcements, particularly at second base and on the mound.

“We’ve had conversations with every club willing to sell, finding out what they’re willing to sell and what their price tags are. You engage everyone about everything,” said Brian Cashman to Ken Rosenthal recently. The Yankees are said to prefer rental players — their trade deadline activity in recent years backs that up — but they’ve reportedly “sworn off” dealing top prospects for said rentals. We’ll see.

We’ll keep track of any Yankees-related rumors right here throughout the day. The team tends to do things very quietly, almost all of their major moves seem to come out of nowhere, so I can’t promise you many updates. Especially not this early in the week. Either way, keep tabs on everything  and talk about all things trade deadline right here throughout the day.

  • 6:17pm ET: The A’s have traded Tyler Clippard to the Mets for minor league righty Casey Meisner, the teams announced. So scratch Clippard off the list. Meisner was the Amazin’s third round pick last summer. He’s similar to a healthy Austin DeCarr, if you’re wondering.
  • 5:00pm ET: The Dodgers and Rangers are currently seen as the favorites to land Cole Hamels. The Phillies continue to demand either Judge or Severino from the Yankees. [Heyman]
  • 3:36pm ET: The Yankees continue to show interest in Ben Zobrist but they are one of many. The Pirates, Royals, Angels, and Cubs are also trying him to pry him away from Oakland. [Heyman]
  • 12:53pm ET: As expected, the Yankees continue to talk both starters and relievers with other teams, especially righty relievers. The plan could be to acquire a reliever then moving Adam Warren back into the rotation. [Heyman]
  • 11:30am ET: The Yankees have indeed contacted the Phillies about Cole Hamels, which is no surprise. They had a scout at his no-hitter over the weekend. The Phillies asked for either Aaron Judge or Luis Severino, but the Yankees are not planning to move Judge, Severino, Greg Bird, or other top prospects. Philadelphia is also said to be seeking a catcher in any trade. [Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, Jim Salisbury, Buster Olney]
  • In addition to Hamels, the Yankees are keeping tabs on basically every available starting pitcher. That list includes Jeff Samardzija, Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo, and Mat Latos, among others. It remains to see whether the Tigers will cave and make David Price available. [Joel Sherman]
  • The Yankees are a potential landing spot for Tyler Clippard, who could be dealt as soon as today. The club has also been scouting Padres relievers recently, presumably Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit. Kimbrel is Kimbrel, and the Yanks have shown a bunch of interest in Benoit in recent years. [Susan Slusser, Jon Morosi]
  • The Yankees are looking for an upgrade at second base. There’s not much out there aside from Ben Zobrist, however. They have zero interest in Aaron Hill and could simply recall Rob Refsnyder if they’re unable to make a deal for help at second. [Jon Heyman]
  • Marlins righty Mat Latos has been linked to the Yankees. The Marlins are in sell mode — they’ve already traded ex-closer Steve Cishek to the Cardinals — and have plenty of rental players to offer. Here is our Scouting The Market post on Latos and other Miami players. [Joe Frisaro]
  • Athletics director of player personnel Billy Owens has scouting Double-A Trenton recently. That is definitely not the most prospect-laden team in the system. Scott Kazmir has already been traded, but the Yankees have interest in Zobrist. [Matt Kardos]
  • The Yankees and Reds did have discussions about Johnny Cueto before he was traded to the Royals. Apparently Ivan Nova‘s name came up. Talks didn’t advance very far. [George King]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Yankeemetrics: SuperNova saves the day (June 22-24)

The new ace? (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The new ace? (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Don’t be like Mike
I’ll let Forrest Gump succinctly recap Monday night’s 11-8 loss to the Phillies: “[Baseball] is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The Phillies entered the game with the very worst record in baseball, the fewest runs per game of any team, and they hadn’t won a road game since before Memorial Day. Nothing like a trip to the Bronx to cure all your problems! So, of course, they set season-highs in runs (11) and hits (18) as they crushed the Yankees in the series opener.

Michael Pineda was clobbered and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, posting perhaps the worst pitching line of his career: 3 1/3 IP, 11 hits, 8 runs, 0 strikeouts. The last Yankee pitcher to give up that many runs and hits without recording a strikeout in a game was a 45-year-old Tommy John on Aug. 28, 1988 against the Angels.

Pineda (and most of the Yankee pitchers) had a ton of trouble with Phillies rookie Maikel Franco, who went 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs. He is the first player ever to produce at least four hits and 5 RBIs in his debut at Yankee Stadium. The last player as young as Franco (22 years old) with that many hits and RBIs in a game against the Yankees was the Indians’ Pat Seerey in 1945.

A lot of runs
Again, I’ll use a quote — this time from Joe Girardi — to sum up yet another blowout loss to the worst team in baseball: “It’s not enjoyable to watch, and it’s not enjoyable to be a part of it. The last three days have been a struggle … it’s been a lot of runs.”

Yup, a lot of runs. For the just the second time in franchise history the Yankees allowed more than 10 runs and more than 10 hits in three straight games. The only other time it happened was June 20-22, 1912 against the Red Sox.

If Maikel Franco makes the All-Star team, he can probably thank the Yankees. For the second straight night, the Phillies rookie crushed the Yankee pitchers, going 2-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs. He is the first player ever to drive in at least five runs in back-to-back games against the Yankees.

Okay, so it’s official, Dellin Betances is a human being. The right-hander gave up four runs in the ninth inning and saw his ERA skyrocket from 0.26 to 1.25. It was his first loss in his 110th career game, dropping his record to 9-1.

The only other Yankee to win his first nine decisions in the major leagues was Whitey Ford in 1950. And only five other players to debut in the last 100 years appeared in more games before their first loss than Betances (the record is 152 games by Clay Rapada).

Another ace bites the dust
The Yankees couldn’t get a win against Sean O’Sullivan or Kevin Correia, but somehow they managed to beat one of the best pitchers in baseball, Cole Hamels, in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon. #weirdbaseball

Ivan Nova was super (sorry, bad pun) in his first major-league start in 14 months, allowing just three hits and no runs in 6 2/3 innings. He is just the third Yankee in the last 20 seasons to pitch at least 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allow no more than three hits in his season debut. The others are Orlando Hernandez in 2002 against the Rays and David Cone in 1996 against the Indians.

The Yankees banged out 10 runs on 15 hits, but none of them left the park, making it the first time the Yankees have scored double-digit runs without a homer at Yankee Stadium since a 13-11 loss to the Indians on May 29, 2010 (thank you, Joba Chamberlain).

Entering this week, the Yankees had a .500 or better regular season record against every major-league franchise, including a 12-12 mark against the Phillies. By dropping two of three games in this series, they are 13-14 against them — so the Phillies are now the only team the Yankees have a losing record against in the regular season all-time.

6/22 to 6/24 Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

Philly Phanatic1

Hey, it’s a rematch of the 2009 World Series! Good times. (We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that last week’s Marlins series was a rematch of the 2003 World Series.) The Phillies are visiting the Bronx for a three-game series this week. This is not their first visit to Yankee Stadium since the ’09 Fall Classic — the Yankees and Phillies played three games in the Bronx back in 2010 as well.

What Have The Phillies Done Lately?

The Phillies are very bad. Very very bad. They beat the Cardinals yesterday but lost two of three in the series and have dropped eleven of their last 13 games overall. Philadelphia is 24-47 with a -122 run differential, both the very worst marks in baseball. The AL East is crazy tight and the Phillies are terrible. The Yankees have to take care of business this series.

Offense & Defense

With an average of 3.10 runs per game and a team 75 wRC+, the Phillies have the worst offense in baseball. They’re actually tied with the White Sox for the worst wRC+ but are three-tenths of a run below the ChiSox and Mariners for the worst runs per game average in MLB. This team has major offensive problems and their position players are perfectly healthy too. No one’s on the DL or even day-to-day.

Uh, Chase? (Presswire)
Uh, Chase? (Presswire)

The two biggest names in Philadelphia’s lineup are 2B Chase Utley (45 wRC+) and 1B Ryan Howard (101 wRC+). Utley’s been a disaster, one of the worst players in baseball, but Howard has been a useful platoon piece. Stalwart C Carlos Ruiz (56 wRC+) has been really bad too. I mean, the whole team has been bad. SS Freddy Galvis (70 wRC+), OF Jeff Francoeur (91 wRC+), OF Ben Revere (90 wRC+), OF Cody Asche (64 wRC+) … all of ’em. Manager Ryne Sandberg’s best regular hitter right now is 3B Maikel Franco (136 wRC+), who was called up a few weeks ago.

OF Domonic Brown (63 wRC+ in very limited time) was called up not too long ago and Rule 5 Draft pick OF Odubel Herrera (77 wRC+) is really fast and can play defense, but that’s about it. I guess when someone like him gets popped in the Rule 5 Draft it makes it even easier to understand why the Yankees protected Mason Williams last offseason despite his dreadful 2013-14 efforts. C Cameron Rupp (78 wRC+), IF Andres Blanco (126 wRC+ in limited time), and IF Cesar Hernandez (81 wRC+) fill out the bench.

The Phillies are below-average defensively but not as bad as they are offensively. Utley is still an okay defender and Galvis and Herrera are fine at short and center, respectively, but that’s about it. Franco and Howard aren’t good on the corners, Brown is a disaster in the outfield and Asche started the season as a third baseman before moving to the outfield. Revere is rangy but has no arm at all. Francoeur has limited range but a great arm. Ruiz rates as one of the worst catchers in baseball at throwing out attempted base-stealers and framing pitches.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. PHI) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (vs. NYY)
Because the offense isn’t bad enough, the Phillies are also scraping the bottom of the pitching barrel. The 34-year-old Correia signed with the Phillies earlier this month and has allowed six runs in 10.2 innings in two starts since. He’s struck out eight and walked two but has historically missed no bats at all. Correia’s strikeout rate from 2012-14 was 12.2%. Eek. He’s got a cutter, a two-seamer, and a four-seamer, all of which sit in the upper-80s, and he throws them about 35% of time combined. A mid-80s slider is Correia’s go-to pitch. He throws it so much it makes me think PitchFX is incorrectly classifying some cutters as sliders. Either way, he’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs.

Tuesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYY) vs. RHP Sean O’Sullivan (vs. PHI)
Correia’s bad, but wait, it gets worse! The 27-year-old O’Sullivan has bounced around the last few years and has a 4.79 ERA (5.62 FIP) in ten starts and 56.1 innings this year. Good walk rate (6.8%)! But a bad strikeout rate (10.8%), a bad home run rate (1.60 HR/9), and an okay ground ball rate (45.4%). Lefties (.426 wOBA) have also hit him a lot harder than righties (.306 wOBA). O’Sullivan has an upper-80s four-seamer and an upper-80s sinker, which he uses to set up his upper-70s slider, mostly. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups and low-70s curveballs per start. This is what replacement level looks like. O’Sullivan and Correia.

Hamels. (Presswire)
Hamels. (Presswire)

Wednesday (1pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Cole Hamels (vs. NYY)
The Yankees almost lucked out and missed Hamels this week, but alas. He’s been dealing with a very minor hamstring problem and was supposed to start Saturday before having his start pushed back, so Wednesday it is. Hamels, 31, had a 2.96 ERA (3.55 FIP) in 14 starts and 94.1 innings this year with a great strikeout rate (26.6%) and average-ish walk (8.0%), grounder (46.9%), and homer (1.05 HR/9) rates. This is his worst season in about five years, believe it or not. Righties (.297 wOBA) have actually had much more success against Hamels than lefties (.207 wOBA) in 2015, which is unusual. He’s historically had no platoon split at all. Hamels is a true four-pitch pitcher, using his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball regularly. His changeup is world class. Arguably the best in baseball. He’ll use it against righties and lefties.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have Wednesday’s starter listed as TBA. That is Adam Warren‘s spot but Ivan Nova also lines up to pitch that day, should the team go in that direction. Joe Girardi told reporters over the weekend he anticipates Nova making his next appearance in the big leagues and not in Triple-A, for what it’s worth. It’ll be either Warren or Nova. That much is clear.

Bullpen Status
The Phillies have a really weak bullpen overall (3.69 ERA and 4.06 FIP) but Sandberg has a dynamite setup man/closer combination in RHP Ken Giles (2.50 FIP) and RHP Jonathan Papelbon (2.81 FIP). Giles really struggled back in April but has since righted the ship, sorta like Dellin Betances. Those two both pitched yesterday, as did RHP Luis Garcia (4.49 FIP).

LHP Jake Diekman (4.13 FIP) and LHP Elvis Araujo (2.28 FIP) are the two lefties and RHP Justin De Fratus (4.47 FIP) and RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2.78 FIP) are the other two righties. Gomez is the long man. The Phillies are really tough to beat if they have a lead after seven innings because of Giles and Papelbon. Before that, well, they stink. Having the worst record in baseball is no fluke. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for an update on Joe Girardi’s bullpen, then head over to Phillies Nation and The Good Phight for the latest on the Phillies.

(GIF via Reddit)

A Haiku for the Rest of MLB [2015 Season Preview]

Does Donnie like Haikus? Of course. (Presswire)
Does Donnie like haikus? Of course. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only three days away. We’ve spent the last four weeks previewing the Yankees and the upcoming season, and yesterday we broke down the rest of the AL East. Today we’re going to wrap up our 2015 Season Preview series with a quick preview of the other 25 teams in baseball. After all, the Yankees are going to have to try to beat those teams this season too.

If you’ve come here looking for a serious preview post, you’re not going to get it. It’s Friday afternoon, Opening Day is right around the corner, and this year’s preview series is over. Instead, we’re going to have some fun and preview those other 25 teams in Haiku form. I encourage you to tell me how much my haikus suck and to make some of your own — pro tip: use the Haiku Counter to make sure you have the right number of syllables — and leave ’em in the comments. Enjoy.

Atlanta Braves
Traded their best bats
For a whole bunch of pitchers
They know scoring’s down?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Nuno their ace?
The answer just might be yes
Payback for ’01!

Chicago Cubs
Bleachers aren’t ready?
No prob, Bryant won’t notice
He’s in Iowa

Chicago White Sox
D-Rob and Melky
Back together in ChiTown
Growing ugly beards

Cincinnati Reds
Good enough to win?
Nah, not in that division
Can we have Cueto?

Cleveland Indians
Brantley is awesome
Kluber is really great
World Series pick? Eh

Colorado Rockies
Troy’s still a Rockie
Kyle Kendrick, OD SP?
Wait for ski season

Detroit Tigers
Miggy, Price, V-Mart
Lots of stars and real big names
Bullpen still a mess

Houston Astros
I don’t understand
You won “process World Series?”
That doesn’t exist

Kansas City Royals
Pennant last season
Volquez is replacing Shields?
For real? Yeah, for real

Los Angeles Angels
They have that Trout guy
I wish the Yankees had him
It’s Teixeira’s fault!

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is the best
Donnie Baseball gets his ring?
If not, just blame Puig

Miami Marlins
Paid Giancarlo
They’re going for it again
When’s next fire sale?

Milwaukee Brewers
They all hate Ryan Braun
But not as much as A-Rod
This team is boring

Minnesota Twins
Phil’s still homer prone
Nunez’s helmet still falls off
Just like the old days

New York Mets
Take back New York, huh?
Orange and blue like the Knicks
But with fewer fans

Oakland Athletics
Ballpark is ugly
Beane traded everyone again
What’s a Stephen Vogt?

Philadelphia Phillies
Rebuild? Finally!
Cole will be traded real soon
Then skip to next year

Pittsburgh Pirates
Cervelli pumps fist
McCutchen cut his dreads
A World Series team?

St. Louis Cardinals
Contender again
Such a boringly good team
Gets boring haiku

San Diego Padres
Kemp, Upton, Myers, Shields
But what about Yangervis?
Solarte Partay!

San Francisco Giants
The World Series champs
But it’s an odd number year
So no repeat then

Seattle Mariners
You can have Robbie
You are still stuck with Jack Z.
Yankees win the trade

Texas Rangers
Could this be the year
That Elvis Andrus will hit?
Hah, made myself laugh

Washington Nationals
Awesome rotation!
Future Yankee Bryce Harper
Has nice ring to it

Phillies have interest in Austin Romine, though Yankees unlikely to get much in return

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to George King, the Phillies are among the teams with interest in catcher Austin Romine. Romine is out of minor league options and can’t be sent to Triple-A without first passing through waivers — chances are he would be claimed, catchers are hard to find — making a trade likely if he doesn’t manage to beat out John Ryan Murphy for the backup catcher’s job.

The Phillies have a clear cut starter in veteran backstop Carlos Ruiz. The backup situation is much more wide open, with 40-man roster players Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph competing against non-roster invitees John Hester, Koyie Hill, and Rene Garcia this spring. A trade won’t happen anytime soon — the Yankees will keep Romine until the very end of camp in case Murphy or Brian McCann gets hurt — but I’m sure the feeling out process has begun.

Romine, 26, reported to camp in great shape and said he intended to make the backup catcher decision difficult for the Yankees even though Murphy is considered the favorite. Romine is off to a 1-for-8 (.125) start to Grapefruit League play, and while that’s a really small sample, he needs to hit this spring to win the job. Hitting .275 in March won’t force the issue. Romine needs to mash if he wants a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Trades involving out of options players on the margins of the roster are not at all glamorous. The return is usually very small, something along the lines of a player to be named later or cash. The Yankees sent George Kontos, an up-and-down reliever, to the Giants for Chris Stewart when he was out of options at the end of Spring Training 2012. Jose Lobaton netted the Rays the interesting Nate Karns last winter, but Lobaton was coming off a 103 wRC+ in 2013. He had way more trade value that Romine does right now.

An out of options player for an out of options player trade is always possible but those are rare. It’s not often the needs and excess players of two teams match up that well. The Phillies have six out of options players in camp according to Todd Zolecki:

In Phillies camp there are six players without options: right-handers Jerome Williams, Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont; left-hander Andy Oliver; and infielders Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez.

De Fratus is actually good (2.39 ERA and 3.11 FIP in 52.2 innings in 2014) so he’s not available. Galvis is penciled in as Philadelphia’s starting shortstop in the wake of the Jimmy Rollins trade and Williams signed a $2.5M deal this winter to bolster the pitching staff. Those two aren’t available either. Hernandez and Oliver don’t really move the needle for the Yankees given their internal options. That leaves Aumont.

Aumont, 26, was part of the Cliff Lee trade way back when, and he’s struggled in multiple cups of coffee the last three years (6.13 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 39.2 relief innings). His Triple-A numbers the last three years — 4.07 ERA (3.99 FIP) with way too many walks (17.9%) in 135 relief innings — aren’t all that good either. Aumont hits the trifecta for the Yankees though, and that’s important:

  1. Miss bats? Yes. Aumont has a 11.07 K/9 (26.7 K%) in Triple-A the last three years and 8.85 K/9 (20.0 K%) in his MLB time.
  2. Throw Hard? Yes. Aumont has averaged 95 mph with his fastball and topped out at nearly 99 mph at the MLB level according to PitchFX.
  3. Physically Huge? Also yes. Aumont is listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 lbs. The Yankees love big pitchers.

The last bullpen spot is currently up for grabs — it’s still way too early in camp to say if someone has taken over as the front-runner — and it could be two spots if Adam Warren or Esmil Rogers replaces the injured Chris Capuano in the rotation. The Yankees have no shortage of candidates for the bullpen job(s), but, if they’re going to lose Romine anyway, flipping him for Aumont and trying him for a few weeks might make more sense than accepting cash or some Grade-C prospect in Single-A.

Now, would the Phillies trade Aumont for Romine? Who knows. Aumont is in the running for a bullpen spot with Philadelphia, which means he would have to pitch pretty poorly in camp to not make the roster. And if he pitches poorly in camp, why would the Yankees want him? Then again, if Romine plays poorly in camp and doesn’t make the Yankees, why would the Phillies want him? The out of options player market is a weird one.

Sifting through depth charts, the Diamondbacks and Padres stand out as clubs that could use catching help along with the Phillies, meaning they’re potential trade candidates for Romine. There’s still three and a half weeks of Spring Training left, which means there’s three and a half weeks left for catchers to get hurt. (San Diego just lost backup catcher Tim Federowicz to a torn MCL.) Lots of time for the market to change.

Maybe things will break right for the Yankees and Romine will clear waivers and go to Triple-A before Opening Day. That would be pretty great, but the Yankees can’t count on it. History suggests trading Romine away rather than rolling the dice on waivers won’t bring much of a return, and, frankly, considering how the last few years have gone for him, there’s no reason to think he has much trade value anyway. Phillies or otherwise, Romine’s stint in the organization will likely come to an end in about three weeks, and the Yankees don’t figure to be left with much to show for it.

Yankees have “come the closest” to landing Cole Hamels according to obvious Phillies’ smokescreen

Hole Camels. (Presswire)
Hole Camels. (Presswire)

The regular season begins four weeks from today, which means we have potentially four more weeks of Cole Hamels trade rumors until he gets the ball for the Phillies on Opening Day. Back in January we heard the Yankees had inquired but were not seriously pursuing Philadelphia’s lefty ace, who does not have New York on his 21-team no-trade list.

Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo reported the Yankees have “come the closest” to landing Hamels among all of the clubs trying to get him. Here’s the full blurb from Cafardo just so there’s nothing lost in translation:

According to one Phillies source, the Yankees have come the closest to landing Hamels, offering a package of prospects that at least has given the Phillies a baseline for future talks.

Yesterday afternoon, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. followed Cafardo’s report by telling Jake Kaplan one team has “stepped up and has shown more particular interest” in Hamels in recent days. Cafardo says his info came from the Phillies and Kaplan spoke to Amaro directly, so there’s no confusion here. This is all coming from the Phillies.

It’s pretty obvious Philadelphia is negotiating through the media now and are trying to put the pressure on … someone. The Red Sox have been linked to Hamels the most in recent weeks and months, reportedly balking at an asking price that includes catcher prospect Blake Swihart, so hey, pulling Boston’s archrival into the mix is a smart move by the Phillies. This is an obvious smokescreen.

I think the Phillies are trying to drive up the price in general, not specifically for the Red Sox. They don’t really care where they trade Hamels — they shouldn’t anyway, the trade is too important to the future of the franchise to handicap things by refusing to trade with certain teams — they want the best possible return. If that’s from the Red Sox, great. If it’s from the Yankees or Rangers or Padres, fine. Whatever. The Phillies simply want the best package of players.

For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman reported yesterday the Yankees have never been particularly close to acquiring Hamels, though he did add some names to the trade rumor mix. From Heyman:

While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that they’ve never received a “definite request,” and another person familiar with the talks suggested “it was a feel out … nothing solid,” it is known the Phillies like Yankees righthanded pitching prospect Luis Severino and power prospect Aaron Judge … It is believed the Phillies might be interested in a package along the lines of Severino, Judge and perhaps infielder Rob Refsnyder for Hamels.

The Yankees could use a pitcher like Hamels because every team could use a pitcher like Hamels. He’s excellent. Legitimately a top ten pitcher in baseball. Plus he’s signed to a favorable contract — Hamels is owed $94M through 2018 with a vesting option for 2019, which is about two-thirds of what he would get as a free agent. Now that Cliff Lee’s elbow is acting up again, there’s no realistically available alternative to Hamels if you want a top starter.

The injury concerns in New York’s rotation mean they would benefit more from acquiring Hamels than some other teams. They shied away from spending this winter in years more than dollars — they didn’t want to hand out any massive six or seven-year contracts. I think they would be willing to pay the right player $20M+ annually for the right number of years, which may or may not mean Hamels. But would they take on the money and trade top prospects too? They Yankees have been hesitant to do that in the recent past.

My opinion: If the Yankees can get Hamels without giving up Judge, they should jump all over it. That isn’t to say Judge should be untouchable, just that I’m hugging him the most out of the club’s prospects. Ideally, on an ideal situation, something like Severino, Refsnyder, and Gary Sanchez would get it done, but I doubt that happens. Hamels is elite and you’re not going to find any other pitchers of this caliber with that favorable a contract. He helps the Yankees not only in 2015, but 2016-18 as well.

Scouting The Trade Market: Phillies’ Position Players

Yesterday we looked at the pitchers the Phillies could offer at the trade deadline, and they have two gems in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Now let’s look at the position players. Philadelphia doesn’t have any impact position players to trade — Chase Utley has already said he would use his no-trade clause to remain with the team — but they do have a few usable pieces. Here are the potential fits for the Yankees.

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

OF Marlon Byrd
The Yankees have zero right-handed power right now. Their righty hitters have managed 16 homeruns in 99 games this year, six of which were hit by the departed Alfonso Soriano. Unless switch-hitters Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Chase Headley are facing a southpaw, the team’s best power threat from the right side is Zelous Wheeler. That’s not good and adding some right-handed firepower to the lineup is a clear need leading up to the trade deadline.

Byrd, 36, is currently hitting .266/.319/.480 (120 wRC+) with 19 homers this season, one year after resurfacing with the Mets (and Pirates) and going deep 24 times. He was very nearly out of baseball in 2012 — Byrd had a 27 wRC+ in 153 plate appearances that year before being suspended for a failed performance-enhancing drug trade — but he reinvented himself as an all-or-nothing slugger following that season. Byrd basically swings from his heels all the time now, and the result is a lot of power (.214 ISO this year, .220 last year, .151 career) and a lot of strikeouts (28.7% this year, 24.9% last year, 18.9% career).

There is a tangible reason for Byrd’s transformation as a hitter (both Jason Collette and Jeff Sullivan have written about it more in depth) and his performance this year is right in line with last year. He is hitting a few more fly balls in general but his 16.7 HR/FB% is the same as last year (16.6% in 2013, to be exact). His plate discipline stats are roughly the same and his .337 BABIP is actually lower than last season’s .353 mark. After nearly 1,000 plate appearances, I think it’s safe to say Byrd’s swing hard all the time style is conducive to a high BABIP. If you’re willing to live with the strikeouts — the Yankees as a team have the fifth lowest strikeout rate in baseball at 18.4% — he’ll give you plenty of right-handed thump.

The Phillies signed Byrd to a very reasonable two-year contract worth $16M over the winter (there’s also a vesting option for 2016 based on plate appearances) and he is in demand at the trade deadline. The MLBTR archives show the Royals, Mariners, and Reds are among those interested in acquiring him. The Yankees are not included in Byrd’s four-team no-trade list according to Jim Salisbury, and he would fit nicely as the team’s everyday right fielder/number six or seven hitter. The Mets traded a half-season of Byrd for a Triple-A reliever (Vic Black) and a good but not great Single-A prospect (Dilson Herrera) last year, though I suspect the price will be a big higher this summer because he’s shown his resurgence isn’t a fluke.

(Mitchell Leff/Gett)
Mayberry. (Mitchell Leff/Getty)

1B/OF John Mayberry Jr.
Don’t want to pay the price for Byrd? Fine, the 30-year-old Mayberry is a cheaper alternative. He is currently hitting .213/.304/.418 (104 wRC+) with six homers in 138 plate appearances overall, including .255/.339/.582 (155 wRC+) against lefties. Over the last three seasons he’s managed a .259/.314/.498 (120 wRC+) line against southpaws and only a .220/.286/.341 (73 wRC+) line against righties, so Mayberry is strictly a platoon option. Considering what the Yankees have gotten out of right field this year, playing him everyday might still be an upgrade.

A few weeks ago we heard the Bombers were scouting Mayberry and that makes sense. He’s cheap ($1.59M salary this year) and under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2016, plus he can play both corner outfield spots and first base in a pinch. A real live backup first baseman. Imagine that. We aren’t talking about a difference maker, just a nice role player. Mayberry would instantly become the team’s best right-handed power hitter and he should come relatively cheap — similar players like Scott Hairston and Justin Ruggiano cost nothing more than fringe prospects over the last calendar year. The Phillies placed Mayberry on the 15-day DL with wrist inflammation just yesterday, so a trade would either have to come in August or while he’s injured.

OF Domonic Brown
Remember all those Brown for Dellin Betances rumors? Those were fun. Last year the Yankees looked dumb for not making the trade (not that is was ever on the table, as far as we know) and this year they would be morons to doing it. Brown has been one of the very worst position players in baseball this year, hitting a weak .227/.279/.327 (66 wRC+) with six homers while playing awful defense in left field. That 66 wRC+ ranks 157th out of 161 qualified hitters. The raw production is slightly better than what Soriano (60 wRC+) gave the Yankees this year.

(Jeff Gross/Getty)
(Jeff Gross/Getty)

Of course, the 26-year-old Brown hit .272/.324/.494 (124 wRC+) with 24 homers and was an All-Star last season, when it looked like he was finally starting to turn his talent into results. Eighteen of those 24 homers came in the months of May and June though (12 in May alone), so over the last calendar year he has hit a soft .236/.292/.337 (74 wRC+) with only nine homers in 136 games. Brown is not a high-strikeout hitter (18.1% this year and 18.4% career) but he does struggle against lefties and is beating the ball into the ground this year. He’s a project. No doubt about it.

Buying super low on Brown as a reclamation project seems like a great idea, except he’s out of options and can’t go to the minors to work on things. At least not without clearing waivers, which would never happen no matter how poorly he hits. Someone would take a chance on him. Can the Yankees afford to stick him in right field everyday and hope hitting coach Kevin Long can fix whatever needs to be fixed? I’m not sure. The Phillies have been shopping Brown since the offseason and I don’t think acquiring him would be all that tough. I’m just not sure what the Yankees would do with him other than stick him in right and cross their fingers.

* * *

As I mentioned earlier, Utley has all but said he wants to remain with Philadelphia and would block any trade. Jimmy Rollins has indicated the opposite — he would be open to accepting a trade to a contender. I don’t think Rollins, who has played one-third of an inning at a non-shortstop position in his entire professional career, is a fit for the Yankees right now, but I fully expect a winter of Rollins-to-New York rumors after Derek Jeter retires. Get ready for it. It’s coming.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz makes no sense for the Yankees and don’t even bring up Ryan Howard. Did you realize he’s hitting .222/.302/.378 (88 wRC+) this year? Forget him. Just a name at this point. Left-handed hitting third baseman Cody Asche is hitting .256/.308/.401 (96 wRC+) with poor defense but is only 24, so that makes him kinda interesting. He wouldn’t help the 2014 Yankees all that much — they wouldn’t need him to with Headley now on board — but he might be useful in the future. Byrd and to a lesser extent Mayberry are good fits for a Yankees team in need of right-handed power. Both are available and both would make a lot of sense.