The New York Yankees are in a strange situation at the moment. They're 42-38, which isn't bad at all. They're 5.5 games back of first, which isn't awful since it's just the end of June (and would put them either in the lead or under two games back in a pair of other divisions). The pitching hasn't been awful all the time, but not all that great either outside of Hiroki Kuroda and a few guys in the bullpen.
Everyone assumes, and usually rightfully so, that the Yankees will try to acquire talent before the trade deadline to bolster the roster for the inevitable playoff push.
Yes, the Yanks are getting a lot of people off the disabled list eventually (more on that in a minute). Yes, they've got more money than all of sports and Exxon combined. Yes, they're still competitive in a hotly contested division that is easily the best in MLB.
A-Rod was worth 2.3 bWAR over 122 games last year (all references to WAR will be to Baseball Reference's version). Let's say he comes back in a month at the end of July and plays for ~55 some games, providing oh... 1.5 wins to be on the generous side. In fact, I'll kick in another fraction because the people that have played 3B for the NYY this year have accumulated negative numbers, so lets say 1.8.
El Capitan was worth 2.2 over an almost full season. Let's call his return as three weeks away, so we'll go with 60 games for one win and another fraction because the current options suck. 1.4 for arguments sake.
Grandy provided 3 WAR on a full season, but is probably not coming back until after the All-Star break as well. Three weeks it is, so that'll be um... 1.3 but no "bonus" because Vernon Wells has actually provided a positive WAR this year. That's 4.5 wins better, which is certainly nice, but not enough to mean anything, assuming current trends stay true.
You can't predict baseball, Suzyn, so perhaps one of those folks returns to their previous form (or perhaps the 39 and 38 year old infielders don't produce like they did a decade ago). Perhaps the Red Sox stumble back to earth, and none of the other teams in the AL East (all at .500 or more) ascend the ladder (or they just keep playing well but maybe one of the other teams plays well, too). But let's just say current trends hold, which is certainly another option, and they do improve a bit from the end of July onward.
It still wouldn't be enough to get a wild card berth.
Let's say the Yankees take a different tack, and try to sell off some pieces to acquire some prospects and depth. What's sellable?
Going off the 40-man roster, there's a few pieces big and small that might entice someone to send over someone with a bit of potential:
Brennan Boesch - Had a 2.5 WAR season just a couple years ago, had a 121 OPS+ this year in a small sample size and makes next to nothing - he could easily be a piece in a trade.
Joba Chamberlain - Lord, please take this man from our team. He strikes people out. He also pitches with little movement and gets blasted when those strikeouts don't happen - 25 hits (4 HRs) and 9 walks in just 19 innings this year.We'll take a used wad of chew.
Brett Gardner - This pains me, because we all like GGBG. However, his game is based on speed, and speed is usually the first thing to go. The man turns 30 in a couple months and will probably start to decline soon. If the Yankees really want to blow stuff up, Gardner would get quite a bit back - one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and some pop at the plate? He's got one more arbitration year left, so teams won't be too shy about looking at him, and he could easily get a top 5 prospect out of a lot of teams. Perhaps Carlos Martinez from St. Louis or Michael Choice from Oakland.
Curtis Granderson - Pop in his bat, strikeouts everywhere. While they might not get Zack Wheeler for him, a healthy Granderson at the trade deadline could certainly haul in someone who has some baseball ability. Maybe the Diamonbacks want to add some pop to an outfield without a lot of it and would give up Matt Davidson if the Yanks threw in someone else?
Phil Hughes - Get the guy out of Yankees Stadium and he's good. Get him into a pitcher's park and he'll be a decent acquisition. Any of the NL West teams that might need another arm should look into acquiring Hughes.
Hiroki Kuroda - Ace for sale! Ace for sale! Who wants a guy with a 149 ERA+? Who wants a guy who doesn't get hurt and has a sub-3 ERA? Let's talk turkey.
Boone Logan - Boone's good. Having a strong bullpen is nice. Having a good bullpen is fairly easy to replicate. Some teams have been willing to overpay for bullpen arms. If someone's willing to give up something hot in let's say a trade for Boesch and Boone, then fare thee well, LOOGY.
David Robertson - Remember what I just said about Logan? Same thing applies. A good bullpen is pretty easy to get. People overpay. Mike Napoli was traded for Frank Francisco. If there's any person out here who wouldn't take Napoli over the drek masquerading as catchers on the team now, raise your hand so you make better targets to have shit thrown at you.
Ichiro Suzuki - More of a fill-in at this point given his salary and mere adequacy with a bat at this point in his career, he's still a player that a lot of teams wouldn't mind having on their roster.
Basically, should Brian Cashman et al decide to go in a direction they haven't been in before, there's a lot of movable parts on this ship. Let's go hog wild and say they trade all nine of the people I just listed - can you imagine what our suddenly below-average minor league system might look like? Can you imagine the organizational depth we might have without having to rely on people like Ben Francisco, Reid Brignac and Alberto Gonzalez? They're probably stuck with the terrible contracts, but that's still over 20 million coming off the books in 2014 - allowing the sudden penny-pinchers to come in under budget while positioning the club for a resurgence for the rest of the decade.