SSTN Mailbag: Trades, Trades, Everywhere There's Trades!
I just want to get this out of the way: after 6 years of managing a Major League Baseball team, Aaron Boone has all the feel of a barnacle in the dugout. Clay Holmes has been absolutely electric following a mechanical tweak that got him stepping a little less in the bucket during his delivery, and that was no different on Tuesday night against the Mets. Boone knew the Yankees had an off-day on Thursday, this following an off-day on Monday. There is absolutely zero reason that Holmes should have been unavailable on Wednesday. Logic would have dictated that after Marinaccio and Kahnle, Holmes would have been available during either the 9th or 10th inning. Not in Boone's book; he's always managing for the next day.
I know that relatively speaking I'm the stat guy around here...and I don't have stats to back-up what I'm about to say, but it feels as though every year the Yankees give away multiple close games during the season not to luck (as statistics dictate that over a large sample size, you'll win as many close games as you lose), but to bullpen mismanagement. Boone might be fantastic in the clubhouse, and his guys might stump for him behind closed doors, but there's little question but that the Yankees give something up tactically by having Boone manage the bench and bullpen. In a season where the Yankees need all the help they can get, it makes Boone's mismanagement that much more glaring. It really frustrates this fan in particular.
As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll do a lot of talking about trades (lots of people looking ahead to the trade deadline, I see)! Let's get at it:
Ben asks: If you had your way and you could only import one player before the trade deadline, who or what position would it be?
If the SSTN Comment Section is a good gauge of current fan sentiment, I think most fans would choose either a left fielder or a starting pitcher. I'm not saying that either is a wrong answer; none of the current crop of outfielders has panned out (aside from possibly Jake Bauers...I still really like him), and the Yankee starting pitchers have been very hurt and when healthy, a couple have underperformed. At the very least, the Yankees sure could use some more depth in those spots.
However, the piece I want the most won't happen, and was entirely obtainable in the off-season: a catcher. Most casual fans incorrectly believe that the message of Moneyball was that On-Base Percentage is more important than any other statistical measure. However, the real message was that the key to building an effective and efficient roster was to exploit market inefficiencies for a team's benefit. The catching market is the definition of a market inefficiency. There are maybe 5-7 truly excellent all-around catchers in all of baseball. One such catcher had been available since prior to last year's trade deadline: Sean Murphy. I wrote over and over again about why he was the perfect fit in New York: power, plate discipline, excellent defense, and a rocket arm behind the plate (a defensive trait neither of the current Yankee catchers possess).
The Braves eventually met the A's asking price: a multi-team trade that brought the Brewers a couple of above-average pieces (infield and pitching) for 2023, and gave the A's a collection of young talent in the form of outfielders and pitching. The Braves gave up their top pitching prospect, a starting catcher, and a couple of down-list pitching prospects. Trading for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino at the trade deadline in 2022 threw away multiple pitching prospects that would have blown away what the Braves dealt aside from pitching prospect, Kyle Muller. The Yankees also could have included a good MLB infielder with a couple of years of team control: Gleyber Torres.
Sean Murphy is producing one of the best all-around seasons in baseball this year, blowing the Yankees out of the water in that regard, as Jose Trevino has barely been replacement level, while Kyle Higashioka is playing like a really high-end backup. Given the Yankees' offensive woes, they could have chased a catcher who was Higgy and Trevino's equal in terms of total defensive value, while producing better offensively than any bat not named Aaron Judge. It was a total missed opportunity (as I've said for a year), and I think the Yankees were more shortsighted at catcher than any other position.
So, yes, I'd want a catcher, but I know it's not happening.
Mike asks: We're in June now - do you have any targets that the Yankees should chase at the trade deadline this year?
This is a very strange year for the trade market. Baseball executives warn that it could be a very light trade deadline, as enough fringe teams are still competing for back-end wild card spots and the market for players really isn't developing. I am more uncertain of realistic targets than I have been in recent memory, if I'm being completely honest.
That said, the White Sox strike me as a team that might sell prior to the trade deadline, as their roster just hasn't come together as expected. If I were them, anything that wasn't nailed to the floor would at least be available. Michael Kopech or Lucas Giolito look like reasonable bets to possibly move on. I also wonder if they'd cash in on a bat who is overperforming, like Jake Burger. More likely, though, they'll deal a couple of bullpen pieces, which would still be of interest.
I also wouldn't be shocked if the Angels made a move to shuffle the roster (no, Ohtani isn't going anywhere). An old-fashioned challenge trade could happen with the right trade partner.
I also wouldn't be shocked if the Cubs trade a piece or two; the big name would be Stroman, but there are other players that would be interesting if they became available, like Wisdom or Hoerner.
David asks: Who do you think is the most likely Yankee major or minor leaguer to move at the trade deadline? Gleyber seems like the most obvious...
Gleyber is certainly on the short list in a larger deal. I also would not be shocked to see Oswald Peraza moved, given that he's still playing SS down in AAA. I really believe one of those two players is playing in a different uniform come August, given the way the Yankees have managed the roster thus far.
Beyond that, the Yankees have multiple interesting mid-level prospects at AA or AAA that could be useful second or third pieces in trades. I think the Yankees will hang on to prospects like Dominguez, one of Pereira/Wells, Beeter, and Vasquez.