The Yankees appeared to be set with their outfield situation entering the 2006 season. The eight-time defending American League East champions signed Johnny Damon away from the Boston Red Sox to play center field, and they still had two terrific corner outfielders in Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. Longtime centerfielder Bernie Williams was re-signed after his eight-year contract expired to serve as a backup, though his already-shaky outfield defense had fallen to miserable levels. Matsui was in the middle of a combined Japanese league/MLB consecutive games streak of 1,768.
Injuries began to wreak havoc on the team though. Matsui broke his wrist diving for a ball on May 11th; his streak was over, and he underwent surgery that kept him out until September. Sheffield got off to great start in '06, hitting .341 in April, but the Yankees lost him on April 29th when he collided on the basepaths with Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Shea Hillenbrand. He returned a few days later, but struggled to hit throughout May. Finally, he was placed on the DL with a torn ligament in his wrist at the end of May, and he also would not return until September. These injuries forced Williams and rookie Melky Cabrera into starting role, something the team was not exactly comfortable with going forward. GM Brian Cashman went to the phones, and one of the names that came up in trade discussions was Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu. Entering the season, Abreu was one of the game's better outfielders, assembling a great career triple slash of .303/.411/.512 with 192 homers. The Phillies were interested in moving his contract though since it owed the 31-year-old $31 million through '08. Their asking price was a little high, so Cashman waited the Phillies out before he made a move. In the meantime, the Yankees made minor moves to acquire outfielders Aaron Guiel and Craig Wilson, who helped the Yankees hold the fort for awhile and stay near the top of the division. Finally, as the trade deadline approached, the Yankees made the trade on July 30th, sending a package of C.J. Henry (the team's top pick in the '05 draft), catcher Jesus Sanchez, and minor league pitchers Carlos Monasterios, and Matt Smith to the Phillies in exchange for Abreu and veteran starter Cory Lidle.
The trade paid immediate dividends for the Yankees, as Abreu fit nicely into the center of their batting order and hit .330/.419/.507 with 16 doubles and seven homers as the Yankees stormed to the top of the AL East (although Abreu continued to be allergic to outfield walls). They swept a rare five-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in mid-August, and the Yankees outscored Boston in that matchup 49-26 in a drubbing now referred to as "Boston Massacre Part II" (following up on the previous highly memorable Fenway sweep in '78). Lidle also proved to be a decent #5 starter, pitching some good games against the Red Sox, the AL Central champion Twins, and the competitive Blue Jays down the stretch. The Yankees would go on to win the AL East by ten games, taking their ninth consecutive division title. Although Lidle would tragically die in a plane accident after the season, Abreu played two more good years in the Bronx, hitting .289/.370/.458 with 79 doubles and 36 homers from '07-'08 before the Yankees declined his '09 option. After a little over three seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Abreu was cut to make room for top prospect Mike Trout (a worthy swap), but the 38-year-old is still hanging on with the crosstown Los Angeles Dodgers, where he is now reunited with former Yankee hitting coach Don Mattingly.
Henry played a season and a half of uninspring A-ball for the Phils until they let him go. He played with the Yankees in the minors for part of '08, then quit baseball and returned to school to play college basketball with the Kansas Jayhawks and later, South Nazarene University. Sanchez proved to be an ineffective hitter, so he switched to the mound with the Phillies in the minors, and has since moved on to the Milwaukee Brewers organization, where the 24-year-old has yet to surpass the AAA level. Monasterios did make the majors in 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has not reappeared since his 32-game stint that year and was released in April. Smith pitched in 12 games with the Yankees before being traded, but the reliever did not do much with the Phillies or their organization, and he left baseball in '09 after just 24.2 major league innings.
I think the Yankees won this trade, what do you think?