Sell Everything That Isn't Nailed Down
by EJ Fagan
July 20, 2023
NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.
Please check out EJ's substack page for more great articles.
The trade deadline is approaching fast, but the Yankees show no signs of turning their season around. Before yesterday’s game, Fangraphs has the Yankees at a 35% chance to make the playoffs. That sounds high to me. It assumes that lots of Yankees players will revert to the back of their baseball card for the remainder of the season. Call me skeptical.
It’s time to sell.
I don’t like want the Yankees to give up on any season. I love a good stretch or playoff run. But this team has a lot of problems that aren’t going to be fixed in the next two weeks. They are old, injured and filled with expensive major league players who are performing poorly. But, selling now is the way that the Yankees can return to contention quickly.
Selling does two things for an organization. It brings in assets to help a team win in the future. An old, broken team like the Yankees could use a lot of those assets. Brian Cashman’s administration has proven to be pretty good at professional scouting. I’m confident that they could find a half dozen Clayton Beeter-types at the deadline.
But, more importantly in my opinion, selling opens up roster spots for young players to show us what they’ve got. Prospects are little packets of uncertainty. Some will become good major league players, but many will fail. It’s really hard to tell which Double or Triple-A players are going to be the good ones. The only way to reveal that information is to play them.
Better yet, selling might open up payroll in the future. The Yankees have a decent amount of money coming off the books over the next year from players like Donaldson, Montas, Kiner-Falefa, Severino and Trivino. If they can free up more money, they might be able to go out and acquire one or two blue chip free agents during the offseason.
So who should go? Let’s start with the obvious ones: Bader, Severino and Peralta are all pending free agents who should be valuable to contending teams. They should go first, and should bring some good players back.
Next, Gleyber Torres, Domingo German and Clay Holmes each have one more year of team control left. All three are productive and relatively cheap. I think you have to consider trading all of them, but Torres would probably bring the most back in return. Given that the Yankees need to open up some infield spots, trading him makes sense.
Finally, the Yankees could try to clear some real money off the roster. DJ LeMahieu has 3 years and $45 million left on his contract. That’s enough of a bargain for a talented player like LeMahieu that I could imagine some team taking at least half of the contract from the Yankees to bet on a rebound. Importantly, LeMahieu gains a no-trade clause after the season with 10-and-5 rights, so the time to trade him is now.
Anthony Rizzo is owed $17 million for 2024 with a team option, which some team might want.
Both of these might be August waiver deals.
I’d love to find a taker for Giancarlo Stanton as well, but that seems like a tall task.
Collectively, these deals would open up a lot of roster spots to audition for the 2024 Yankees. By my count, the following players could play in the majors in August and September:
Infielders: Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Andres Chaparro
Outfielders: Estevan Florial, Everson Pereira, Greg Allen, Brandon Lockridge
Catchers: Ben Rortvedt, Carlos Narvaez
Starting Pitchers: Randy Vazquez, Jhony Brito, Clayton Beeter, Will Warren
Relievers: Greg Weissert, Matt Krook
Players they acquire in trades
I don’t know which of the listed players here are major leaguers, but some are. Let’s find out, then give the good ones a spot on a younger, revitalized 2024 team. Instead of short-term deals like the Yankees have been making for what seems like a decade, maybe the Yankees can go use the savings to go out and sign another Cole, Judge or Rodon.