Yankees sprint to rewrite their trade mold to rebuild the team

Yankees fans with a cutout of Shohei Ohtani at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 2023.

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The Yankees don’t fit the traditional mold of trade-deadline buyers this year. Their inconsistent performance, lackluster offense in the absence of Aaron Judge, and current position on the outskirts of the postseason picture make their approach to the trade deadline less definitive.

Despite the challenges and uncertainties, the Yankees must consider their window of opportunity with key players like Judge and Gerrit Cole. Time is ticking, and their prime years are passing quickly. While no one remains young forever, they can’t afford to squander the presence of these exceptional talents, particularly if Judge comes back from injury.

Taking the Yankees’ situation into consideration, they are indeed aiming to strengthen their roster before the August 1 deadline. With their current record at 53-48, the team must rush to fill various departments that require attention.

The Yankees’ left field needs urgent reinforcement

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Derek Jeter‘s recommendation to pursue Juan Soto holds weight, given his stature as The Captain. However, acquiring Soto could prove either impractical or too expensive. Nevertheless, there are alternative possibilities worth exploring, such as Dylan Carlson, a former top prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals, who offers controllability and versatility in all three outfield positions.

The Yankees should definitely aim to acquire Soto, a rare talent if the opportunity arises. However, the chances of that happening at the moment appear slim. Moreover, the Yankees face competition from other teams, some of whom can offer more enticing packages to the Padres in a potential trade. While the Yankees’ proposed package could be competitive if they were the sole interested party, they might be outmatched if other teams like the Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, or Dodgers enter the picture unless they sweeten the deal by including players like Anthony Volpe.

With Tyler O’Neill back in the lineup, Dylan Carlson’s playing time might be diminished. Nevertheless, at just 24 years old, he still has three years of team control left. Although his current OPS stands at .699, two years ago, he boasted a .780 OPS and hit 18 home runs. There’s potential for later development, and the Yankees might consider taking a chance on him.

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Cody Bellinger, currently having a bounce-back season with the Chicago Cubs (.913 OPS, 13 homers), could be a promising addition to the heart of the Yankees’ lineup. After three challenging years following his 2019 NL MVP Award, Bellinger seems to have regained his form. His lefty swing would be a great fit for Yankee Stadium, and he showcased his power with a home run to right field during the Cubs’ recent visit to New York.

Bellinger stands out as one of the top hitters potentially available for a trade before the deadline. He’s been on fire this month, which works in favor of the Cubs if they choose to sell. The Yankees could definitely benefit from adding a left-handed hitter with both average and power in their lineup, and Bellinger’s swing seems well-suited for Yankee Stadium. However, giving up one of their best pitching prospects like Thorpe might be a steep price to pay, especially if Bellinger turns out to be rental and doesn’t sign with them in the upcoming offseason.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees’ trade decisions at the deadline could be impacted by their aim to stay below the highest luxury-tax threshold. In such a scenario, the Cubs might need to retain a portion of Bellinger’s remaining contract to facilitate the deal and assist the Yankees in meeting their luxury-tax goal. If the Cubs were willing to cover a significant portion or the entirety of Bellinger’s contract, it would make trading someone like Thorpe more attractive for the Yankees.

Randal Grichuk from the Colorado Rockies could be an attractive option for the Yankees due to his track record of power hitting, boasting five seasons with 20-plus homers, including 31 in 2019. At 31 years old and in the final year of his contract, Grichuk has shown promise this season, recording a .831 OPS and five homers in 56 games despite missing some early time. Another intriguing choice could be Tommy Pham from the Mets, although it’s uncertain whether the Mets would be willing to aid their crosstown rivals. However, if the Mets decide to sell, trading Pham could make logical sense.

Yankees desperate for a catcher after Trevino injury

With Jose Trevino set to undergo season-ending wrist surgery, the Yankees might consider bolstering their catching position. Currently, they have Kyle Higashioka and recently called up Ben Rortvedt as their tandem. While the idea of pursuing slugging Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, an eight-time All-Star, sounds exciting, it may be far-fetched given his $44 million contract over the next two years. Another potential option could be Tucker Barnhart from the Cubs, a two-time Gold Glove winner. Interestingly, Barnhart wore No. 15 with the Detroit Tigers in honor of his dad’s favorite player, Thurman Munson, which adds a captivating narrative to the mix.

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Additional catching options the Yankees could consider include Omar Narvaez of the Mets, who might not have starting potential due to Francisco Alvarez’s emergence. Yasmani Grandal from the Chicago White Sox and Austin Hedges from the Pittsburgh Pirates are both potential rental options. Interestingly, the Pirates have been utilizing their catching prospect Henry Davis in the outfield to capitalize on his hitting abilities, as evidenced by his two home runs off Shohei Ohtani in a recent game. This may indicate that Pittsburgh will continue to rely on Hedges as their primary catcher.

Regarding top prospects, Joey Bart, the No. 2 pick in the draft by the San Francisco Giants, hasn’t fully claimed the starting role there and appears to have been surpassed on the depth chart by Patrick Bailey. With Bart, who is 26 years old, potentially available, there could be a chance for him to fulfill his potential with the Yankees.

Fumbling starting rotation calls for a boost

In theory, the Yankees’ rotation should be solid, but Gerrit Cole is the only starter performing exceptionally well this year. If we remove Cole’s statistics, the collective ERA of Yankee starters drops to 4.60, ranking 26th in baseball. This places them among teams with little hope for the playoffs. Therefore, it might be necessary to add another starter to the current group, which consists of Cole, Carlos Rodón, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo Germán, and Luis Severino.

Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is a trade target for the Yankees.

Let’s start with the most obvious choice. Shohei Ohtani should undoubtedly be a target, given he’s one of the most extraordinary players in baseball history. However, that’s a long shot, as he might not even be available. Moving on from that dream scenario, the White Sox could potentially flood the market with their starters. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito are set to become free agents. As for Dylan Cease, the runner-up for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award, acquiring him would likely come at a higher cost, considering he’s under club control for two more seasons after this one.

There are several other notable pitchers set to become free agents after the season, including Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals. However, his playing time has been limited since his breakout year in 2019. Another option is Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres. Additionally, Eduardo Rodriguez of the Tigers has the option to opt out of his contract after the season, which might make him a potential trade target for Detroit.

The Yankees have demonstrated their ability to develop valuable relief pitchers in recent times. If they choose to explore trades and address their bullpen needs, they could consider Kansas City’s Scott Barlow. While his current numbers may not be impressive (4.89 ERA), his performance in the previous two seasons was solid, and the fact that he’s under contract through 2024 adds to his appeal.

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