Imagining what a sad Yankees trade deadline selloff could look like
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SEATTLE — Brian Cashman stood on the field at Yankee Stadium prior to his team’s June 29 game against the Angels and said “we suck right now, as bad as you can be.”
Turns out, he was only half right.
After they went out that night and beat the Angels, they suffered a disastrous loss to the same Angels team — when Aroldis Chapman blew a four-run lead — and then dropped the next two to the Mets in The Bronx before finally scratching out a win in the Subway Series finale on Sunday.
During that same interview last week, Cashman said he considered the Yankees buyers as the July 30 non-waiver trade deadline approached. However, he added “if we fall like a stone, you have to regroup and reassess. We’re trying to fix what we’ve got, to self-correct what we have and add to it. But if it’s unworthy at some point, then you have to have different conversations.”
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday that being a seller at the trade deadline is “not a direction I’m contemplating right now.”
Still, according to Fangraphs, the fourth-place Yankees entered Tuesday with a 38.4 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, meaning those conversations might have to happen soon — and if they do, what will they look like?
Among the Yankees’ issues is they aren’t one or two moves away from being a contending team — and they don’t have a ton to sell if they do change course.
The biggest potential piece to move would be Aaron Judge, but trading a star in the prime of his career is not something that’s in the Yankees’ DNA — especially one that’s become the clear face of the franchise.
The 28-year-old Judge is set to become a free agent following next season and said during spring training there had been no talks of an extension.
With the Yankees already locked in for another seven years of an aging Giancarlo Stanton, they’ll have to decide whether to make another long-term investment in a player who has battled injuries.
If not, they could consider moving Judge, which would put their rebuild on the fast track. With the team not even in sell mode yet, it’s hard to fathom them considering a move like that in the next few weeks.
Their top two bullpen arms — Chapman and Zack Britton — each have their own issues, with Chapman suffering through an ugly stretch that’s certainly lowered his value on the market. And Britton, coming off spring training elbow surgery, also suffered a strained hamstring. If he can stay healthy and effective, he’s another strong chip for the Yankees, under contract through next season.
Then come the less expensive options, like Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga. Green, like Judge, is under team control through next season. He’s among the most dominant relievers in the game and his effectiveness should only increase as his four-seamer shows no signs of decline since the crackdown on foreign substances.
Loaisiga has three more years until free agency, meaning the Yankees would be less likely to move him, but he’s been on teams’ radars since 2017, when the Yankees put him on the 40-man roster to prevent him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Gleyber Torres’ situation remains a mystery. From breakout star in 2018 to two-time All-Star a year later, Torres is having a second straight ugly campaign. It would be tough to trade him with his value so low.
Gio Urshela could fetch some prospects, but he’s hardly enough to add much to the farm system and the same goes for a pair of one-time prospects who are currently lost: Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier.
Three games in Seattle and three more against the first-place Astros in Houston to close out the first half — followed by four versus the Red Sox in The Bronx after the All-Star break should tell the Yankees which direction they should go.
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