The New York Yankees are in a desperate fight for the final AL Wild Card spot and, instead of acquiring reinforcements at the trade deadline, the team did hardly anything to move the needle.
Hours after the deadline, the New York Yankees dropped their third straight game and are now 1-4 across a key 10-game stretch. Rightfully so, fans are scathing and chants of “Fire Cashman” erupted across the stadium last night. During the game, Cashman addressed the media, and confused many on the exact approach he took to the deadline.
Remaining dormant through most of the afternoon, the Yankees finally made a move as the deadline ticked nearer, acquiring Keynan Middleton from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Juan Carela. Carela had been repeating High-A for the Yankees this season, pitching to a 3.67 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 83.1 innings. Middleton, an upcoming free agent, is a fine addition to an already strong bullpen, but making this the biggest move may prove disastrous. The hard-throwing righty has done a great job of limiting hard contact, but has ran a walk rate north of 10 percent, a yellow flag more than a red one. Only in the 2018 season did Middleton run a FIP south of 4.00, pointing him more towards low leverage work. Walks are solely to blame, as Middleton has a career walk rate north of 10 percent. Eno Sarris’ Stuff+ model likes Middleton’s fastball and changeup combination, both ranking above-average.
A second move was announced shortly after the deadline, as Spencer Howard was pried from Texas in exchange for cash considerations. Howard is a former top prospect that has fallen flat in his limited big league work. A second round pick by Philadelphia in 2017, Howard has pitched to an ugly 7.20 ERA with equally ugly underlying numbers in his 39 appearances across four seasons. Still, Howard’s raw stuff is fine, with both his fastball and changeup rating as above-average on Sarris’ Stuff+ model. His pitch mix has varied as time goes on, but the winning formula has yet to be found. This is an interesting buy-low option, something Cashman has been able to find value in.
While these two moves are not bad in a sense, the overall picture of the deadline is extremely disappointing for the Yankees. With glaring holes in left field and behind the plate, Cashman and company did nothing to address either. Consistently running out Billy McKinney, Jake Bauers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Oswaldo Cabrera in left is clearly not working. McKinney and Bauers have both posted above-average offense, but have been awful on defense. Both are better suited to smaller roles on a contending team, which the New York Yankees still fancy themselves to be.
Fans are justified to be upset, especially given the recent track record by Cashman. Once hailed as a roster-building savant, Cashman has not built a World Series winner since 2009, although he will still hold that his 2017 team would have won. There is little reason for optimism, even with the recent return of Aaron Judge, for the rest of the season.