The New York Yankees came into this season with more question marks than they’re used to. Injuries were the main culprit to these issues along with a few key players lost due to free agency. It’s difficult to replace five of your best six hitters from a season ago and that’s exactly what the Yankees needed to do coming into 2013. Mainstays like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson started 2013 on the disabled list, while Nick Swisher and Russell Martin were lost in free agency to the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.
To help mitigate some of that lost production, GM Brian Cashman signed former Yankee nemesis, Kevin Youkilis, along with Travis Hafner, and Lyle Overbay. He didn’t stop there though, he acquired Vernon Wells to help supplement an outfield starved of power. It hasn’t gone quite as planned for Cashman and Co. When the month turned to May, Hafner and Wells the luster came off and both stopped hitting. Meanwhile, Youkilis made his annual DL stint, and Overbay has provided inconsistency. It’s no surprise the Yankees will be buyers at the deadline being five games back in the loss column to the Boston Red Sox.
To quickly sum up what the Yankees need for the stretch run is as follows: A power-hitting outfielder, a corner infielder with some pop, and a starting caliber catcher. Just to give you an idea of how bad it has gotten in Yankeeland, the team has used four different third baseman this season and they’ve hit a combined .221/.282/.298 (57 wRC+) on the year. That ranks dead last in the MLB. Again, the production in LF has been poor to the tune of a .246/.290/.370 (77 wRC+) slash line. Ranking 28th in the league in creating runs, which is simply dreadful.
With that said, many names have been thrown around and they’ve landed mostly in the Philadelphia Phillies organization with the likes of Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz. Both players are in positions of need for the Yankees (third base and catcher, respectively). However, Peter Gammons tweeted that when asked, the Phillies weren’t open to trading away Young, which if taken at face value, is not good for the Yankees.
Young could presumably plug a few holes for the Yankees. Firstly, he could play most infield positions in a pinch. However, when/if Jeter and ARod return, he could take over at first base for Overbay. He hasn’t exactly cranked out home runs this year (only six so far), but he has a slash line (.288/.345/.417 with a 110 wRC+) the team would definitely welcome. With both Teixiera and Youkilis out for the year, the Yankees are in a tough spot, especially since the Phillies haven’t officially become sellers.
Outfield options become a little more scarce, but one name that pops out is Michael Morse (.251/.313/.454 with a 115 wRC+), who was on the Yankees radar during the offseason before he signed with the Seattle Mariners. The righty has a power stroke the Yankees covet and sorely need (.203 ISO), but his tendency to hit the DL every year really makes him unattractive. But, with how dire the situation looks right now, the Yankees might roll the dice and hope he stays healthy. being a righthanded bat helps tremendously in a lineup loaded with lefties. He is signed through 2014, so he would be more than a rental player and could represent a reasonable stopgap before the prospects of Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, and Mason Williams show up. With Curtis Granderson due back by mid-August, the Yankees might just hold off and hope their in-house options (Zoilo Almonte) can help until he returns.
Staying with the Mariners, Kendrys Morales is another name that has surfaced. The switch-hitting 1B/DH-type would help balance out the lineup and would represent a sizable upgrade over what the Yankees are trotting out there now. His .281/.339/.468 (127 wRC+) slash line dwarfs what the team already has on the roster at first base. His contract is dirt cheap, coming in at $5.25 million, which the acquiring team would pay roughly $2.5 million the rest of the way. For austerity budget concerns and his production at a position of need, the Yankees need to at least make a run at acquiring his services.
The trade deadline is only a few weeks away, and rumors and deals will be ramped up after the All-Star Break. The Yankees could (and probably be) major players this year at the deadline. With the addition of the second wild card spot, more teams are keeping players past the deadline, which makes for slim pickings at a crucial time for teams who are in desperate need for a pick-me-up.
Make sure you stay tuned to Call to the Pen as we will bring all the major wheelin’ and dealin’ in the coming weeks.
Food for Thought:
Which player should the Yankees trade for, if any, at the deadline? Why?