Wednesday Discussion: Reaction to the Yankees at the Trade Deadline
How did the Yankees do?
We asked our writers. Here is what they said.
Paul Semendinger - I wanted the Yankees to go BIG because this is a year they can win the World Series. And they did, kind of. Almost.
The Yankees needed an outfielder - they got a good one in Andrew Benintendi
They needed a starting pitcher - they got a good one in Frankie Montas
They needed bullpen arms - they got good ones in Scott Effross and Lou Trivino.
The Yankees were also able to move Joey Gallo and get a good prospect.
Wins all around!
I wanted the Yankees to be all-in on Juan Soto and rumors are that they were, that they offered top prospects for him, and the Nationals felt it wasn't enough. I'm okay with that. They did what they could. And they kept their biggest trade pieces. (Maybe we'll see a monster deal this winter.)
I'm not as high on Benintendi as many others, but he's fine. I'm on record saying he's very similar to Aaron Hicks. Once Stanton comes back, what's the difference? In that regard, he's not a great upgrade. My thought was that Hicks would get traded and the Yankees might add a power lefty bat or one more quality starter. They didn't. But I also felt I couldn't be greedy. The Yankees had made the moves they felt made the team better and I was agreeing and giving them the benefit of the doubt (which they deserve) so, as of about 5:45 p.m., I felt the Yankees had scored an A or an A- on the trade front. They did what they had to do. It wasn't quite what I wanted them to do, but they were IN.
But then, they traded Jordan Montgomery for an injured player who might not even play this year. WHAT? All of a sudden the rotation was not as deep. I'm sorry, this trade made no sense. None. Zero. It makes zero sense for a team trying to win the 2022 World Series - especially the Yankees who need left-handed starting pitching...always. Now they have just one left-handed starter. If Bader plays, he's also...right handed. Why do the Yankees always go against this idea that they win with power lefty bats and left-handed starting pitchers?
With the Montgomery trade, the Yankees went from the starting rotation being a strength, to it being basically at the same level it was before all the trading. I also worry about what it does to a clubhouse to see a good guy, a lifelong member of the team, traded out of the blue. Decisions like this don't help a team's chemistry. They just don't.
And then it hit me. I'll write more on this in the coming days and weeks, but here is the big picture:
The Yankees have a big lead. They are, for all intents and purposes, going to the playoffs. With this fact, the Yankees made the decision to take their foot off the gas pedal and are playing to try to be better in October. They aren't playing for August. They've developed a strategy to take a slow ride into October.
Bader might come back. If he does, it'll be late in the season. If he does, he'll make the Yankees better in October. (At least defensively. He's not much of a hitter and the Yankees have a few guys in the lineup who aren't offensive threats.) Luis Severino was moved to the 60-Day IL. He's now out until September. The plan is for him to ramp up in the season's final weeks to be ready for the playoffs.
If Bader comes back and Severino comes back... and maybe even Zack Britton, they're a better club on October 1 than on August 3. But, what if they don't come back? Or what if the time away leaves these players less than ready? What if, by taking their foot off the gas pedal, the Yankees don't end up with the best record and have to play a critical Game 7 in Houston?
Winners win by playing hard every day. I sense the Yankees are going to try to find a way to take it easier this next month-and-a -half and then try to turn it on late. Giancarlo Stanton won't be brought back for a while. Watch for the players to be rested even more. The Yankees are playing for October because October is all but guaranteed. The problem is that I don't think teams win in October by taking it easy in August and in the first half of September. Once you lose the edge, it's hard to get it back. It's not easy to turn it on and off. At all. (No one has ever mon a marathon by running eight-minute miles from Mile 18 to Mile 23. That's what the Yankees are going to try to do - go slower now to try to be stronger in the final miles.)
I don't think this is a winning approach. I think it's a bad strategy. Watch for the Yankees' August to be similar to their July just was. Win one, lose one. I don't think they're all-in right now. The only thing keeping Judge playing regularly is his chase for records. If he slumps and falls off the pace, he'll get rested a lot more as well. They Yankees want to be rested and ready for October. That's their plan. I'm just not convinced that teams can just turn it on when they want - especially against the league's best teams. We shall see.
Lincoln Mitchell - The Yankees made themselves better team with their trade deadline transactions. They picked up a valuable starting pitcher in Frankie Montas, a valuable reliever in Effross and an intriguing question mark in Lou Trivino. Moreover, they did that without surrendering a top tier prospect. Those were all excellent moves. My question is whether it will be sufficient.
And that brings me to the Andrew Benintendi trade. Benintendi’s name first came up as a good fit for the Yankees when Aaron Hicks was struggling, but Hicks has been playing much better lately, slashing .274/.374/.407 since June 1st. Over that same time period, Benintendi has slashed .279/.397/.350, so Benintendi is not an improvement over Hicks. Benintendi is an upgrade over Joey Gallo, but Lou Piniella is 78 years old and he would have been an upgrade over the way Gallo was playing. Benintendi is a useful player, and will help the Yankees more than Gallo has this season but he not an impact player. My sense is that they needed to add a bigger bat. The Gallo trade was a good move as it got the Yankees a prospect for a player that was hurting the team. However, I expect Gallo will play well for the Dodgers and to produce more WAR for LA than Benintendi will for the Yankees.
The last minute Montgomery for Bader trade is a tougher one. I have always liked Montgomery, but he was probably the odd man out for the Yankees post-season rotation. Bader is an excellent defensive centerfielder who will make every pitcher better. But, on balance, I would rather have Montgomery and improve outfield defense from within the organization.
Ed Botti - My quick reaction, “Menza Menza”. I do like the addition of Frankie Montas (first choice was Castillo), although I do think he was very expensive as far as prospect capital goes. RHP Lou Trivino leaves a lot to be desired with his 6.47 ERA. Not really sure how he fits in.
Andrew Benintendi fits the bill as far as I am concerned for the type of left handed bat this team could use. Couple that with the subtraction of Joey Gallo and his penchant for whiffing, and it becomes a win - win.
Scott Effross seems like a typical Brian Cashman bull pen maneuver. I have only seen him pitch a handful of times, (actually in person at Wrigley this past June). I trust Cashman when it comes to building a bullpen. So, I am optimistic!
Joey Gallo for Clayton Beeter is fine. I didn’t expect much in return. Addition by subtraction. It needed to be done, and gratefully ( for both the Yankees and Joey) it finally was! I hope we see him in October!
The surprise deal was moving Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader. Monty was not getting a post season start. But where does Bader fit? Who is the 5th starter? German? Frankly, I don't get that one.
They did improve. So that’s a good thing. Could they have done better? Possibly. Josh Hader and Luis Castillo would have been a big win. David Robertson would also have been a nice piece to add. Overall, I would give them a B grade. So, let’s play ball and see where the chips fall!!
Chris O'Connor - On the whole, I am very happy with the Yankees trade deadline. They acquired a number two starter for the playoffs, a few nice relievers, and two defensive, contact-first outfielders without giving up any of Volpe, Peraza, and Dominguez. They also got rid of Joey Gallo in what had been an untenable situation.
I was, however, a little conflicted about the Montgomery trade. On one hand, he would have been (at best) their number four starter in the playoffs and quite possibly would have been converted into more of a long reliever strictly for the postseason. On the other hand, that assumes Cole, Montas, and Cortes stay healthy and productive. That is no sure thing given Montas' recent shoulder injury and Nestor blowing past his previous career high in innings, not to mention the inconsistency of Jameson Taillon and Luis Severino's injury woes in the back of the rotation. I think that the Montgomery trade raises the Yankees ceiling but also lowers their floor. In the ideal scenario, they traded a back end of the rotation guy for a Gold-Glove caliber center fielder who pushes Judge to right field and Benintendi to left (with Stanton at DH).
In the doomsday scenario, Bader fails to heal sufficiently from his injury, the rotation woes persist, and suddenly the Yankees are short on both arms and outfield depth. I think the likeliest scenario lands somewhere in the middle, but it is an interesting bet nonetheless by Cashman and company.
Tim Kabel - I’m very pleased with the moves the Yankees made. They upgraded the bullpen and added a quality starter in Montas. They also found a taker for Joey Gallo. The trade of Montgomery is somewhat puzzling but, they now have a gold glove caliber centerfielder. That will allow Aaron Judge to go back to right field where there will be less wear and tear on him. I suspect they will use Clarke Schmidt as a starter since they have been stretching him out. The addition of two quality bullpen arms will allow them to do that as well. Of note, the Yankees did not give up any of their most prized prospects. I would not be surprised if Oswald Peraza is called up in the very near future. That would also allow them to move Anthony Volpe to AAA. All in all, I am very satisfied with what the team did at the deadline.
Ethan Semendinger - I gave my immediate reactions when I wrote about the trades as they happened. A more detailed response will come tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.
Tamar Chalker - Overall, I think the Yankees are better than they were last week.
Mike Whiteman - Postseason baseball is a game of the little things - pitching, defense, baserunning. The Aaron Boone Yankee teams have lacked these elements despite gaudy regular season records. This year Brian Cashman has equipped his manager with the tools for those gut wrenching playoff struggles. Assuming Harrison Bader recovers from his injury and joins the lineup before the postseason, the Yanks will feature elite outfield defense in addition to their solid infield and gold glove caliber efforts from Jose Trevino behind the plate. The contact hitting and speed they have added in Andrew Benintendi and Bader should be useful. Frankie Montas lines up as the number 2/3 starter in a postseason series. Scott Effross and Lou Trivino add depth and a new look to the bullpen. This is a well rounded team with solid pitching and air-tight defense that can beat an opponent offensively in a number of ways. I'm pleased with how Cashman supplemented the team. Now it's time to go win it all.
James Vlietstra - To me Brian Cashman did a great job. It became evident early on that the clubs selling assets were trying to hold the teams buying for ransom. Even with this, he managed to accomplish several goals:
Add RP depth
Unload Joey Gallo
Clear some of the upcoming Rule 5 logjam.
All of this while not parting with Volpe, Peraza, Pereira, Dominguez, or Wells.
The minor league players biggest purpose is to improve the Major League team whether through promotion or through trade. The eight prospects traded were all part of their top 30, from MLB Pipeline.
Their starting pitcher depth especially took a hit as three from AAA and 1 from the active roster were moved. Especially hit hard was their left handed starters as 4 were traded.
The biggest question of all the trade deadline activity is the Jordan Montgomery trade. I rarely question Cashman and his logic as he is very prepared and isn’t caught off guard much. But Montgomery was well liked in the clubhouse and sometimes you don’t mess with the chemistry. He also pitched very well in the playoffs last year.
Again, overall I really am pleased what they did. Benintendi should reach base much more frequently than Gallo. Montas is expected to be the number 2 starter. And extra relief depth should refresh the arms in the bullpen. If Hader returns from injury to be the player he was last year, Judge won’t need to worry about playing center anymore.
The only real questions left at the moment is does Peraza get called up and push IKF to the bench and does Higashioka remain as the defense only backup catcher?