What If The Yankees Are Buyers? (Guest Post from Cary Greene)
Guest Post by Cary Greene
July 9, 2021
A mere 21 days from now, the Trade Deadline will strike its bell and close the door on all trades. Players may still be placed and claimed on outright waivers after July 30, but for GM’s who want to move a contract or obtain some prospects, the Deadline signals their last opportunity to do so until the coming off-season.
The Yankees run the gauntlet over the next two weeks, playing a ring-of-fire 16 game schedule against Houston, Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay – teams the Yankees are a combined 7-16 against this season. This crucible will surely determine if Brian Cashman is a buyer or a seller.
There is a chance the Yankees could catch fire as they have proven, if nothing else, that they are one of the streakiest teams in all of baseball. When the Yankees are hot, they are firecracker hot. However, if the Yankees continue to play as they have this season and wind up struggling through this stretch of season, it is likely that the Bombers trade strategy could change.
In the spirit of optimism, let’s say the Yankees play good baseball leading up to the deadline and are still within striking distance, or better, of the Wild-Card or even the divisional lead. Which teams would Brian Cashman look to transact with?
Teams that may have a slight inclination to sell, should they find a deal they like, may be the Indians, Reds, Cubs, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves and Phillies.
Teams that absolutely should be looking to sell are the Tigers, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Orioles, Marlins, Rockies, Pirates and Diamondbacks. Cashman will scour this tier of teams and he’ll be looking for absolute difference makers – players who could help the Yankees in glaring areas of need. Every contending team’s GM Will also be scouring this group of teams by the way.
Let’s examine the group of absolute sellers. What pieces do they have that fit Yankee needs?
We’ll start with the teams that should be willing to part with some of their best players in exchange for a cache of prospects that could help them become contenders down the road. Today I will be previewing one potential trade partner – in the hopes that the Yankees might turn into legitimate buyers.
The Diamondbacks are the worst team in baseball this year and Ketel Marte is their most tradable asset. Presently, their GM, Mike Hazen, is on a leave of absence due to his wife having brain cancer, but it’s been recently reported by ESPN’s Steve Adams that Arizona has been telling teams that they won’t be trading Marte. I imagine Brian Cashman’s Yankees are one of these teams that Arizona has communicated with recently as it’s no secret that Cashman is interested in Marte.
The Yankees recently completed a much more minor deal with Arizona, trading the 25 year old AA Reliever Keegan Curtis for Tim Locastro who the Yankees are enjoying very much! Perhaps Hazen will recognize that holding onto Marte may not be in the best interests of the Diamondbacks, who having built a top-10 farm system are probably interested in continuing that momentum.
Arizona’s system lacks middle infield depth and the Yankees have oodles of that in A and AA ball so the two teams are intriguing partners considering their willingness to work with each other. Obviously, some of the Yankees lower level breakout pitchers may be of interest to Arizona as well.
The Red Sox are in the market for a CF but presently, they don’t have the prospect cache to make a serious run at Marte. I’d position the Yankees as absolutely able to acquire Marte and should Arizona decide to stop posturing and face the music – the Yankees would even be a favorite in a potential deal.
The Diamondbacks also have left-hand hitting, 34-year-old corner outfielder JJ Reddick on the roster, who will be a free agent next year and could use a change of scenery (he’s having the worst year of his entire career this year).
Lastly, Arizona is locked into Mad-Bum, Madison Bumgarner, through the 2024 season for a cool 85 million they wish they never spent on the crafty lefty. He’s stinking up the joint this year with his 5.73 ERA and I’m sure they’d love to unload him and hit the reset button on their pitching staff.
Would Brian Cashman be interested in either Reddick or Bumgarner? Highly doubtful. Bumgarner has had an ERA of 4.00 or worse since 2016, that’s half a decade basically since he’s been an effective, top of the rotation ace. I was shocked when Arizona signed him actually and I doubt the sophisticated Yankees analytics department would sign off on Mad-Bum coming to the Yankees.
As for Reddick, he’s not an outfielder that gets on base much to suit Yankee needs and he’s not a very good fielder, though he technically can play all three outfield positions – he’s primarily a right fielder.
The 29-year-old lefty Caleb Smith is a desirable bullpen piece, but he he’s under control through 2024 so the cost for trading for him wouldn’t be worth it for the Yankees, who already have Chappy and Britton at the back end of the Bullpen. Would Cashman look to offset the likely long-term loss of Darrin O’Day and try to add Smith to the middle of the bullpen? Doubtful, because Lucas Lutge is doing a really solid job in that middle inning lefty role for the Yankees.
All signs then point to Ketel Marte being on the Yankees’ radar. Will Arizona trade him? Well, they play him mostly at 2B, so they’d need a replacement for the remainder of the season for sure. They’d also like middle infield depth and pitching, as well as a potentially ready CF.
The Yankees are stocked with position players like Estevan Florial, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, Oswald Peraza, Diego Castillo and Hoy Jun Park, so Arizona really ought to dip into that talent pool and part with Marte – it just makes too much sense for them not to. In addition, the Yankees can offer oodles of A and AA pitching and Arizona, a team on the rebuild, could really benefit from that – though six of their top-10 prospects are actually pitchers, you can never have too much pitching.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty then. Is Marte a perfect fit for the Yankees? Then, what would it take, from the Yankees perspective and if it made sense, to overwhelm Arizona into trading him?
Marte is actually a well below average, borderline bad center fielder He’s not a long term answer for the Yankees there. He’s cost the Diamondbacks 10 runs this season in center and UZR pegs him this year at -3.3 so – no, he’s not a fit there for the Yankees. It would be best to play Marte mostly at 2B, where he has proven to be effective.
Acquiring Marte would absolutely better balance the Yankee offense and it would make sense to swap his roster spot out with Gleyber Torres. Therefore, the Yankees might look to trade Gleyber as part of a Marte package. Gleyber is under control 1 year longer than Marte (through 2025).
What would it take for the Yankees to acquire Marte? An absolute boatload of prospects. Considering the switch-hitting Marte is under control through 2023, the Yanks would be looking at two highly rated middle infielders, Florial and a top pitching prospect. I am not sure that’s a smart trade for New York.
There is no question, Marte’s switch hitting bat would play well in the #3 hole in the Yankee lineup for years to come. Marte rakes against left-handed pitching and hits .280 vs right-handed pitching so there is zero question about how potent an offensive force he is.
In that regard, a trade for Marte does make sense for the Yankees and Cashman should lead with a package built around Gleyber Torres. I imagine Torres, Florial, Peraza and either Gil or Medina would get trade talks heated up. Of course the Yankees would like to replace Gil or Medina in these talks with Deivi Garcia, but it’s doubtful the Diamondbacks would bite, though it would be worth a try.
What do our readers think of how well the Diamondbacks match up with the Yankees should Brian Cashman find himself in a true, buying mode 21 days from now?