New York Yankees leadership is reportedly split over what to do at the trade deadline, now just over two weeks away.
As the Midsummer Classic is now a thing of the past, teams are gearing up for an important couple of weeks. With the August 1 trade deadline approaching quickly, these next few weeks will determine if teams a few games out from playoff contention will become buyers or sell off expiring contracts.
One team that has its front office warring over the decision to keep its veterans and compete or trade and rebuild for the near future is the New York Yankees.
The Yankees currently sit fourth in the American League East at 44-44, 7.5 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles. They are also five games behind both the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox, who hold the two Wild Card spots.
According to ESPN, the Yankees have reached an impasse on whether or not the team should be buyers or sellers come the trade deadline. Leading the “sellers” side is general manager Brian Cashman, believing the team is better off giving up on the season and preparing for the future.
As for the “buyers” side, owner Hal Steinbrenner and president Randy Levine believe the team can still find its way into the playoffs and should buy expiring contracts come the trade deadline.
The source that told ESPN about New York’s warring sides went on to mention that the team would be looking to ship off their expiring contracts in Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Aroldis Chapman and Ivan Nova.
Ellsbury is signed through 2020 (club option for 2021 with $5 M buyout) and owed approximately $21 M a year while McCann is owed $17 M a year through 2018.
When it’s all said and done, should the Yankees follow Cashman’s plan or stick to the business approach in Steinbrenner and Levine?
While the Yankees ended the first half on a strong note, taking three of four from the Cleveland Indians, the team is just .500 and sits eighth in the Wild Card race. Trying to secure a Wild Card spot will be incredibly tough, especially with six teams sitting between 2 and 5.5 games back from a playoff spot.
Levine and Steinbrenner are focused on making the most money for the Yankees and still believe the team has a shot, which is not completely false.
The margin is a slim 5.5 from both the first and second Wild Card spots, both currently owned by division rivals.
That means there will still be a handful of series left for the Yankees to quickly chop the 5.5 game margin down. However, they’ll have to win multiple series against two of the best offenses in baseball, which is no easy feat.
But if the team decides to pursue the competition route, they would have to go all-in and give up an opportunity to stack its farm system (rather than deflating it) by trying to earn a playoff spot. Which, in all reality, will end with an early exit.
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Beltran has put together an incredible first half that was capped off with another All-Star appearance. The outfielder is hitting .299 with 19 home runs and 56 RBI. Teams like the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants will likely be buyers come the deadline and could use another outfielder like Beltran. And in return, the Yankees will get a handful of solid prospects, especially if Beltran keeps up his successful 2016 campaign.
Chapman and Miller, two of the best arms in baseball, will also come at a steep price. Both pitchers have dominated at the end of games and been reliable closers. Chapman (2.49 ERA, 17 saves, 13.5 K/9) and Miller (1.37 ERA, 7 saves, 15.79 K/9) could be a huge difference for teams who still need another reliable bullpen option like the Mets, Indians and Rangers.
As for the other players, the prices will fluctuate much more, but the Yankees could still acquire some nice young prospects. Take the Oakland Athletics for instance. The team traded the Mets Tyler Clippard and in return received Casey Meisner.
While he is still a few years away from making an impact at the major league level, he is a nice return price for a player who would have otherwise left a struggling team in free agency.
It would be wise to listen to Cashman. The man knows what he’s doing: not focusing on the business side of things like Steinbrenner and Levine.