The Tuesday Discussion: Buy or Sell?
July 11, 2023
This week we posed the following to our writers:
The Yankees are one game out of last place in the AL. East. If the season ended today, they would not be in the playoffs. Still, there is some hope. Carlos Rodon just joined the team. Aaron Judge might return... As the trade deadline quickly approaches, should the Yankees be buyers or sellers in 2023?
The following are their responses:
James Vlietstra - I believe that the Yankees are in the position that they can improve themselves by trading away certain players.
That being the case, I think they should be sellers. It’s a matter of do they have assets others want to trade for?
If they could replace IKF, Torres, Donaldson, Trevino, Higashioka, and two or three bullpen arms with Peraza, Pereira, Rortvedt, Wells, Cortes and Barclay plus save on salary and possibly get some decent minor leaguers back, the organization would be in much better position moving forward and could be in a better position for a playoff run this year.
Paul Semendinger - Sell. Please. Sell. It is time. It is past time. The core players (Rizzo, Judge, Stanton, DJ, Cole, Holmes, Trevino, Rodon, and others... are all past 30-years-old. Most are declining or injured.) Bader will be a free agent. Severino too. Domingo German and Torres will be free agents after next year. The kids on the farm seem to be years away. Smart teams look at their rosters honestly. This is not a championship team. A championship, right now, seems further away than ever during the Boone era.
Some smart deals could make the Yankees more youthful, energetic, and fun for the second half and into 2024. If they stay the course, they'll... stay the course which will be to run out an aging, slow, fundamentally poor team that has lost its focus and energy. Much of the blame for that falls on the manager and the general manager.
The Yankees tried to address 2023 but short-cutting a host of positions. It didn't work. They gambled and lost. The Yankees are eight games out of first place, but one game out of last place. 12 MLB teams have a better record than the 2023 Yankees. It's time to face reality. Sell.
Ed Botti - The conundrum facing the Yankees is an interesting one. The market itself has shrunk, as the playoff platform has increased the number of teams eligible. So there are now less sellers. In most years at this time of the season, they are usually buyers. Lately they have been seen at the blue light special at a K Mart (Gallo, Montas). This season in their minds they are buyers, and will probably be seen again at K Mart. However, if they decide to be sellers, who exactly is for sale, who wants that player or players, and what if anything, would they get in return? Is there a market for Luis Severino and his history of injuries and his 2023 performance? Who would take Donaldson and the remainder of $25 million for a 150 hitter? Is there a market for DJ? Who would take the Stanton contract? It appears that Gleyber Torres has value, but not nearly as high as it was in the past. IKF has value to any team. But at what costs? The strength of the team is their bullpen, so there ae bullpen pieces that can be traded such as Holmes, King, Marinaccio and Peralta. Depleting the most effective unit on the team would be tough to sell, but their only option. In doing so, they will be telling all of us that they are throwing in the towel for 2023. I do not see that happening for 1 reason. The architect of this roster will not admit he built a poor team that he is paying $285 million. He is simply too thin skinned and stubborn to do so, in my opinion.
So, look for them to be buyers at the bargain basement store. I just hope they keep youngsters such as Spencer Jones, Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, and Will Warren, to name a few.
Lincoln Mitchell - The Yankees should be sellers. It is not a difficult decision. if you are a Yankees fan, ask yourself the following question. Would you rather the Yankees win 91 games this year and next and get knocked out of the playoffs in one of the first two rounds both years or not make the playoffs this year and have a good shot at winning the World Series next year? I know I would prefer the latter. This Yankees team has too many problems and trading prospects for a moderate upgrade at the deadline would be a bad mistake. In MLB today the idea of trying to win the World Series every year is silly. That approach is why the Yankees have not played in a World Series since 2009. This is not their year. They should be focusing on shedding payroll, figuring out which prospects can contribute, restocking the minor leagues and finding a way to add another real impact player through free agency in the off-season.
Cary Greene - It’s time for changes in the Bronx. Big changes, not so much related to personnel, but more so - it’s time to change the way the Yankees operate and the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline is a perfect opportunity to address some of the problems.
It’s understandable that due to the Yankees having MLB’s second highest payroll, Brian Cashman will be in his annual “World Series or Bust” mode approaching the August, 1st Deadline. However, further depleting what is already a greatly weakened farm system - one that MLB.COM ranked 13th coming into this season - is a bad idea.
(I'll have a full length article on this later in the week.)
Tim Kabel - Please see my article from earlier this morning.
Mike Whiteman - We know of last year’s trade deadline disaster, but the Yanks have had success in making incremental deadline deals. Anthony Rizzo, Clay Holmes, JA Happ, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Luke Voit and Todd Frazier all joined the team after the all-star break in recent years and provided value down the stretch.
The Yankee farm system is a bit low at the moment in major-league ready players, but there’s enough talent at the lower levels that can be expended to add some help if desired. The big question is how will the team hold up through July? Will they buy or sell?
I see this season looking a lot like 2016, when they waited until late in the month to make the buy/sell decision. On the day Aroldis Chapman was dealt to the Cubs, the Yanks were 4.5 games out of a playoff spot. Would Hal Steinbrenner authorize another sell off seven years after doing it before?
Personally, I’m hard pressed to take the foot off the gas while the team is in close postseason contention. I live in a market dominated by passionate Phillies, Orioles and Pirates fans, all of whom have seen some lean times over the past decade. These teams’ experiences also show that a selloff and rebuild isn’t always the straight line many think it will be. We fans were a bit spoiled by the brief Yankee “reload” that consisted of the last two months of 2016, and the first half of 2017. I brace at the thought of fan reactions if the Yanks had a slow rebuild that resembled the Phils’ from 2015-2022.
I don’t take playoff spots for granted. Even in this expanded playoff environment. I hope they go for it.
Andy Singer - I think it is important to take a holistic approach to analyzing the organization as a whole during this All-Star break. To a certain extent, Dillon Lawson was made a scapegoat (though I don't necessarily disagree with the firing) for the struggles of veterans who probably can't justify their paycheck on the basis of performance, but certainly should produce more than they have to this point in the season. Despite their offensive struggles, the Yankees have lost multiple games this season due to poor managerial decisions and poor fundamentals. On a team living at the margins, that's unacceptable, and it speaks to the fact that the leadership staff in the dugout is not doing their jobs. That is an indication that this is not the right crew to lead the Yanks to a World Series, this season or in the future.
On the flipside, high-impact talent is coming, while some is already in-place. I think Volpe will have a big second half, as he finished the first half really strong after making a mechanical adjustment. I think Austin Wells and/or Everson Pereira/Jasson Dominguez could appear in the Bronx in the second half. I think Clayton Beeter and Randy Vasquez are primed to be permanent fixtures in either the Yankee rotation or bullpen. Further down the pike, Chase Hampton, Drew Thorpe, Yoendrys Gomez (if he can stay healthy), and Richard Fitts all look like they could be viable starting pitchers with an ETA of 2024-2025. While the Yankees don't have a top-5 farm system currently, it is far from barren. The Yankee roster will experience significant turnover next season, and a mixture of free agents and prospects will have to fill out the roster next season.
On paper, selling sounds like a good idea, but I'm not sure they have the pieces to return enough high impact talent to make it worthwhile. Severino has imploded and won't be worth much; the bullpen arms (who will be necessary next year, beyond Peralta) will likely bring back just mid-level prospect depth, at best; and Donaldson and Stanton aren't going anywhere. The only truly valuable sell-now pieces are Bader, IKF, and maybe one of Higgy or Trevino. Of those, only Bader might bring back a real, high-end prospect.
The reality, much as fans don't want to hear it, is that a simple regression to the mean for the struggling veterans make this a very good team once Judge is healthy. I wouldn't sell the farm, but dealing from the Will Warren/Trey Sweeney bucket of prospects to get a left-handed power bat at the deadline might be just the injection of talent this team needs. The vets need their confidence back in language that makes sense, and I actually think that's where Casey's value, if any, will come from.
While I'm not thrilled with where this team is going, selling is not the right option, and it's more reactionary than sensible, given the Yankees' budget and the landscape for next season. I would cautiously buy...unless the Yanks further implode in the next two weeks, then all bets are off.