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Precursor for the Upcoming MLB Trade Deadline

by James Vlietstra

July 26, 2021

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The MLB trading deadline is less than a week away. There are currently 18 of the 30 teams within 6 games of a playoff berth. The Yankees’ team management is going to need to make the all important decision: Do they buy, sell, or stand pat as 4:00 pm on July 30 nears.

The Yankees are currently in third place in the American League East. They are 9 games behind the Red Sox and just .5 games ahead of the fourth place Blue Jays.

The Yankees are fourth in the Wild Card standings 3.5 games behind the A’s for the second spot.

The common perception is that the Yankees are a win at all costs franchise. In reality, their hands are tied by a self imposed mandate to keep the budget under $210M. That is roughly the same budget they operated with in 2005 when their revenue was about $277M and the total value of the franchise was $850M. Revenues in 2019 (last full season) were $745M and according to Sportico, the club was worth an astounding $6.75B as of March of 2021.

The fan base is growing restless. The current 21 year stretch has only netted one World Series championship. That’s the worst 21-year run the team has endured since their first four years of existence. Obviously with more teams and more rounds of playoffs, it’s more difficult now than ever before, to win a World Series, but the futility needs to change. The Yankees have tried the analytical approach, and there’s definitely valuable information to be gathered, but maybe it’s time to give old fashioned scouting some more say in the decision making process.

The current Yankees are a very talented team. However they are also extremely flawed. It’s a righty heavy lineup that is severely stagnant. Until recently, they have been lacking speed and athleticism. They are constructed with three second basemen with two playing out of position every day. Over the course of the next 10 games would anyone be surprised if they went 9-1? What about 1-9? That leaves you with a club hovering around.500, capable of giving hope or ripping your heart out night after night.

The Yankees minor league system has been playing phenomenally. However, this will lead to the off-season dilemma of needing to protect several players from the Rule 5 draft by either trading them or adding them to the 40-man roster, in order to not lose them for nothing.

Ultimately, the main purpose of the farm system is to improve the Major League team. This happens by graduating players or packaging prospects to improve the roster. The better the farm system, the more productive the trades. Right now, the Yankees have a very talented system. Similar to fantasy football, smart teams look to turn two 5s into a 6, two 6s into a 7, etc. That’s obviously an oversimplification, but it’s the general idea. After 2019, I advocated trading Gleyber Torres and his 38 HRs by a shortstop in a package to Toronto for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Perhaps long term a bad idea, but Torres’ stock was at his highest and VG was a generational talent. To me it was a 9 and a couple of 5s getting a 10.

The most valuable assets are young players that have already progressed through the system and have developed into MLB ready talent, with many years of control. Also dominant relievers usually fetch a tidy return.

In 2016, the Yankees decided to be sellers. They revamped their entire farm system by trading Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova, and Andrew Miller. Meanwhile the careers of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Texeira were winding down, resulting in the influx of youth that included Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and lots of unexpected victories.

Which brings us to today.

Over the course of this week, the Yankees front office team of Hal Steinbrenner, Lonn Trost, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman, Jean Afterman, Tim Naehring, and Damon Oppenheimer among others, will make the all-important decision to go for it or not. This also includes the decision to stay below or go above the $210M threshold.

The following are some of the players that could be moved in the next week, their contract status, applicable, and some quick thoughts I have on them:

MINOR LEAGUERS:

Jasson Dominguez- consensus top 25 player. Will be asked about, but he is untouchable

Clarke Schmidt- Came into the year as a top 100 player. Injuries have hampered him. The Yankees should not sell low

Deivi Garcia- Also a top 100 prospect. Has had a very disappointing season. Value has never been lower, but in his last couple of starts he has shown improvement.

Oswald Peraza- Another top 100 prospect who is tearing up the minors.

Luis Gil- potential to be a 2-3 starter, having very good year

Luis Medina- If his command improves he’s got Ace ability

Anthony Volpe- top 100 prospect, tearing up minors

Josh Smith- Another SS tearing up the minors. The Yankees can’t keep them all

Antonio Gomez- Young, power hitter expected to stay at catcher. He will be sought after

Ezequiel Duran- Rule 5 eligible player who is also tearing up minors

Matt Sauer- Rule 5 eligible returning from Tommy John Surgery

Everson Pereira – Rule 5 eligible, could see Top 100 list

JP Sears- Rule 5 eligible

Glenn Otto- Rule 5 eligible, leads minors in strike outs

Janson Junk- Rule 5 eligible, leads minors in ERA

Shawn Semple- Rule 5 eligible

MAJOR LEAGUERS:

Jameson Taillon- 1 year arbitration left, proving to be an excellent pitcher now that he’s healthy

Johnathon Loasiga- He’s a dominant reliever that’s pre-arbitration

Chad Green- 1 year arbitration left, consistent quality reliever

Gleyber Torres- 3 years arbitration left, multiple All-Star

Gio Urshela- 2 years arbitration left, solidified third base

Luke Voit- 3 years arbitration left, legit power

Aaron Judge- 1 year arbitration left – The face of the franchise

Gary Sanchez- 1 year arbitration left, A Top-5 catcher

Luis Cessa- 2 years arbitration left, solid reliever

Domingo German- pre-arb, a legit 2-3 starter

Lucas Luetge- pre-arb, solid reliever

Jordan Montgomery- 2 years arbitration left, innings eater

Rougned Ofor- 1 year and option on contract paid by Rangers

Aaron Hicks- 4 years plus option left on contract. Injured

Miguel Andujar- pre-arb, Value at lowest it’s ever been

Clint Frazier- 3 years arbitration left, his value is even lower

Justin Wilson- option for next year at $1.15M

Zack Britton- 1 year left on contract

Giancarlo Stanton- 6 years plus option left on contract. Full no trade clause

DJ LeMahieu- 5 years left on contract, full no trade clause

Aroldis Chapman- 1 year left on contract, full no trade clause

Gerrit Cole- 7 years left on contract, full no trade clause

NOTES – A No Trade Clause doesn’t mean a trade is impossible, it is just that the team would need to sweeten the pot for the players to accept a trade. For example, Aroldis Chapman might want an additional year at $18M to waive the No Trade clause in his contract.

Gerrit Cole has seven years left on his deal. The last 2-3 could be disastrous from a management standpoint. They would probably have to eat $10-15M per year to get anything in return and only a handful of teams could afford him.

Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is a $22M hit against the cap. The Yankees could pick up the option at the end of his contract now to have Stanton accept trade and then pay a team $7M/ year in a deal. $15M is a bargain price for an elite slugger. That is how a deal for Stanton could happen. The Yankees could use the roster flexibility that would come from moving this slugger. .

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Ultimately by this time next week, I fully expect that the Yankees will have made several impact deals. It’s just a matter of if they are going to go for it in 2021 or if they will reload for the next pennant chase.

#TradeDeadline

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