Here were are, confronted with an early off season for the Yankees, pondering what is next to come for our favorite team. Rumors will abound about this player or that player, of whom, the Yankees may or may not be interested in, some of which will be true, some false and some mere conjecture. For a change, rather than talk about what is realistic or not, and who the Yankees will pursue in the coming months, how about fantasizing about who we would want on the Yankees if we could have them.
For the fun of it, I am going to name each Major League team and the guy I would like most for the Yankees. I am not assuming anything about the player's availability but rather am just stating the player I would want if he could be had. It can be only one player per team and the guy could be at any level in the system. (The player cannot be someone who is expected to be a free agent this off season.) The following are my choices for the American League Teams:
Orioles - The Orioles have a few nice prospects like Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. They also have a couple nice players in their prime like Chris Davis and Adam Jones. However, considering that Derek Jeter is close to done, as is Alex Rodriguez, the easy choice is Manny Machado. He is a high end all around player who could play either position and is not likely even in his prime yet.
Red Sox - I know boo. I do not like the Red Sox either but I would love to steal one of their better players. They have a mix of talent of various ages and a strong farm system. While the idea of someone like Clay Buchholz gives me thought, I have to go with Xander Boegarts. The Yankees need a shortstop and this is one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
Tampa Rays - This is one of my toughest decisions as there are some very good players that are young and would really help the Yankees. That said, my top three are David Price, Matt Moore, and Wil Myers. The first two are high end starters while the latter player is likely to be a great hitter for years. In order to make this decision easier, I will factor in the financials. Price is close to a huge pay day and free agency if he wants to test the market so I will count him out though not easily, since Moore looks like he is going to be a stud. Between Myers and Moore, I decided to go with Moore. The Yankees have OF prospects and some hitting prospects, even if not ready. The Yankees best pitching prospects all seem to be at A Ball so I will go with Moore though I am arguing with myself even as I say it. Moore has all the makings of a great pitcher.
Blue Jays - I am not a big fan of the players on the Blue Jays (not just because they had a bad season but also because the guys I liked best that would have helped the Yankees, were traded for RA Dickey.) Nonetheless, if I had to choose anyone, I think I would take Aaron Sanchez though close behind is Marcus Stroman. Edwin Encarnacion would make sense for 3b but he is terrible defensively there. Sanchez is a top pitching prospect though he is likely a couple years away.
White Sox - This is a pretty terrible team both in the majors and on the farm. However, there is one player who stands above the rest for me, Chris Sale. He would slot right in toward the top of the Yankees rotation, which is a big team need.
Indians - For the moment, I am assuming Robinson Cano stays with the Yankees. If he did not, then my first choice would be Jason Kipnis, who is an excellent all around 2b. That being said, the Indians have a few nice minor leaguer including top prospect Francisco Lindor, a shortstop. I am not high on Lindor as scouts are. His defense appears to be great and his hitting solid but there are other shortstops whom appear likely to do a lot more with the bat while also playing good defense. I think Trevor Bauer has more issues than expected so he is out for me. Since the Yankees badly need a catcher, Carlos Santana is the choice. He is still young and would be a huge get for the team. However, if Cano leaves, I would then go with Kipnis since the Yankees have solid catchers in the system but no 2bs remotely close.
Tigers - I am not a big fan of the Tigers farm system. It has little to offer at the moment. They drafted a nice looking pitcher in Jonathon Crawford but he is too far away to value that highly yet. Nick Castellanos is the one current jewel in the system per the scouts yet he has not done anything so awesome to drool over. For said reasons, I look to their major league club and see three options that I like -- Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera, all of whom fill needs on the Yankees. I like all three but I am going with Verlander. Scherzer has had one great season while Verlander is consistently great though last year was not as good as usual. They are only one year apart in age. Cabrera would have been my first choice if based on performance alone but with the two big contracts already at the corners plus guys like Jagielo and Bird a couple years away, why give up the big chips for Cabrera instead of Verlander, who fills a need the Yankees have no answer to nearby. I do really love Cabrera's bat though so this was rough and I could change my mind later.
Royals - The Royals a few nice young players and 4 top prospects. However, those prospects are more projection than performance so far. Accordingly, Kyle Zimmer has shown the most polish of those guys so far. A guy is not a top prospect yet but could become one is Sean Manea. However, his health is what caused him to drop in the draft and he is still has not done anything in the minors yet. A really exciting pick who could really help the Yankees but is not yet a highly rated prospect because he was just is drafted Hunter Dozier, who is playing shortstop for KC's farm system. Nonetheless, the Yankees could fill an immediate need by picking Alex Gordon, an OFer who is a good all around player. His bat and defense could really help the Yankees.
Twins - As soon as this team's name came up, two names came to mind, both of whom are among the top prospects in all of baseball, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The former is the top OF prospect and possibly overall prospect, while the latter is the top 3B prospect and close behind overall. (I like Joe Mauer but his salary and his knees scare me.) Picking between these two guys is rough, kind of like choosing between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Buxton is a polished 5 tools OFer while Sano is a polished slugger like no other in the minors. I would love to have both of these guys but if I had to choose one, I would take Buxton. I have a slight hesitation because, unlike Trout, I have not seen 20 plus home run type power yet. However, Buxton has such phenomenal plate discipline and bat control that he just looks like the next great all around OFer and player, similar to Trout or maybe Andrew McCutchen.
Astros - While the major league club excites no one, over the last couple years, the Astros have built one of the best farm systems in the majors. They have 7 guys are generally considered top prospects, 4 of whom are among the top 25 on most lists. Those 4 guys are Carlos Correia, shortstop, Jonathan Singleton, 1b, George Srpinger, of, and Mark Appel, sp. These are all guys most teams would love to have. That said, I take Singleton off my list because he plays 1b and his performance seems to have weaned a lot post-suspension. I like Appel's upside but he is still far off to get too excited about. That leaves us two players Correia and Springer. Correia is a disciplined hitter with some pop for a shortstop and slick hands. He has some speed but has yet to steal a lot of bases in a season. Springer has power similar to Sano, as he already looks like a 40 home run type but unlike Sano, also has shown 40 sb ability, all to go along with nice plate patience. Plus he is considered a solid defender. His only knock is he strikes out a lot. Nonetheless, I am going with Springer because a guy who can do all that Springer can do is hard to find, especially in this pitchers' era. I like Correia but Springer is already MLB ready and is a more unique prospect than Correia. (Honorable mention goes to Jason Castro.)
Angels- They do not have a single exciting prospect. Not one. Nonetheless, since we can have anyone we want, who cares. They have Mike Trout, the best all around player in baseball. This was the easiest choice by far (though no offense to Jered Weaver.)
A's - The once great farm system is one of the worst systems in baseball now, though to be fair they are also constantly promoting guys so they deserve a bit of a break. However, they have one very bright jewel in shortstop Addison Russell, who ended the year in AAA. He is a five tool shortstop who has demonstrated those skills and might turn out to be a better than the top rated Lindor. Before making him my choice too quickly, I considered the major league options. There are 3 that I like above the rest - Jarrod Parker, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson. I always liked Parker but his proneness to the home run reminds of Phil Hughes. Enough said on that. Cespedes, an OFer, has some nice pop and speed though last year his numbers were disappointing and his defense is poor. Donaldson's great season seems to have come out of nowhere, but then a look at his minor league stats suggest that this kind of season was in the wings. While I like both of these guys, a polished player like Russell who can take over at shortstop in 2014 or 2015 with the Yankees having no other close solid options makes him my pick.
Mariners - Another team with a lot of young talent. Between Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Tajuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Kyle Seager, etc., the talent is abundant. As much as I love all of these guys and know the Yankees could use all of them, this time I go with the major leaguer, Felix Hernandez. I do not know if they other top pitching prospects will become great but if they did, the likelihood is the best they can aspire to would be King Felix so why not go for the best? Hitting wise, I like Zunino a lot as well as Nick Franklin but King Felix is a must have.
Rangers - When I thought of the Rangers, two names instantly came to mind, Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar. The Rangers have other talented players but no one at the level of these two guys. While Profar's 1st year stats fail to impress, people forget that this guy is only 20 years old. His upside is tremendous. Meanwhile, I still cringe when I remember that the Yankees did not bid hard for Darvish. (I hope they rectify that with Tanaka though I know we all have talked ourselves into believing that he will have similar to success as Darvish because the Yankees failed to get Darvish.) How do you choose between a franchise shortstop with his whole career ahead of him and a young ace with vicious stuff? At this very second, I am picking Darvish. Profar seems to have a while before he will be a star and nothing in his minor league career screams wow. His projections are all based on not yet realized potential. With Darvish, I know we are getting an ace.
This is it for the American League portion of this article. What player would you choose from each team?