May 17th, 2016
The New York Yankees can be fun to watch. But, most of the time it’s painstakingly obvious this team’s anemic offense, and woeful starting pitchers are incapable of competing in the AL East in 2016. Sure, Yankees fans would love to see CC Sabathia return to form, watch Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Alex Rodriguez join exclusive clubs with gaudy career offensive numbers. But here’s the bottom line: the players most fun to watch will not see the field enough to make fans happy and hopeful throughout the summer. Forget about the postseason. It’s abundantly clear that GM Brian Cashman’s strategy of acquiring veteran talent has not panned out.
The most electric players are Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. With fastballs sitting in the mid- to upper-90’s, and filthy off-speed pitches that routinely buckle the knees of opposing hitters, these three pitchers make hanging around for the late innings worth the $20 bucket of chicken tenders and fries at the stadium. At this point, though, we can count on one hand the number of times (just twice) we have seen the trio dominate a lineup in the same game. That type of bullpen – the type that can turn a standard nine-inning game into a six-inning Little League contest – is a luxury in today’s game. A luxury the Yankees can afford to sell.
The front office should trade at least one of those arms to a contender looking to improve its bullpen. A team like the Dodgers, which has shown a willingness to spend, has a disastrous bullpen with the exception of Kenley Jansen, and a full crop of young farm talent, is an easily identifiable trade partner. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Dodgers boasted the 2nd rated farm system as of February 10th. The Yankees would love a shot to land a guy like Julio Urias, amongst others.
Gaging the trade market for one of the top pitch receivers and a solid hitting catcher in McCann will certainly attract a bevy of offers from several clubs. Moving McCann would allow the club to perhaps add a reliable starter to the back of the rotation, while creating regular at-bats for Gary Sanchez, one of the Yankees’ blue chip guys.
With Beltran and Teixeira coming off the books in 2016, the Yankees will immediately create cap space to improve their roster in the offseason. Nate Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova are also on one-year deals expiring at the end of the season. The club’s cap space could also increase if Sabathia’s salary does not become guaranteed at the end of the season. His contract stipulates that if a left shoulder injury lands him on the disabled list for more than 45 days, if a left shoulder injury forces him to end the season on the disabled list, or if he makes more than six relief appearances due to a left shoulder injury, then his 2017 option will not vest, creating an additional $25 million for the Pinstripes. If Sabathia and the club reached a mutual decision to part ways, the club would pay him a $5 million buyout. With movable assets and expiring contracts, the Yankees are primed to make deals at the end of July.
As of May 17th, the Yankees sit six games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox atop the division. The Toronto Blue Jays are also six games back, but are in a much better position with a more formidable lineup, and more talented rotation equipped for postseason contention. The Yankees’ hopes of contending this year look bleak – extremely. Barring a significant turnaround that would put the Yankees within striking distance of a playoff birth, the best course of action at this point is to acquire valuable assets for 2017 in exchange for sending veteran pieces to contending clubs.