As trade season approaches and the deadline comes ever closer, teams need to start thinking about whether or not they are buyers or sellers. The Yankees are never sellers, not unless they're 20 games out or something, so they'll be looking to add pieces no matter what the team is doing. They might not end up making any because Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Pineda, Eduardo Nunez, and Curtis Granderson will all be coming back. But what if Jeter can't come back? or A-Rod gets suspended? and Michael Pineda is ineffective? Maybe they would need help at that point, so they could look to non-contenders and see what they're trying to sell off. The following is a list of teams that are currently under .500 and who they might be looking trade off that the Yankees could need.
Brewers: Aramis Ramirez, Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart, Kyle Lohse
The Brewers are about to go into rebuild mode and if A-Rod can't come back this year, because of the hip injury or because of suspension, and Kevin Youkilis proves to be too fragile to take over third base, the Yankees could use Ramirez to cover both this year and next year too. He has a $14 million mutual option for 2015, but he can be bought out for $4 million and if the Brewers kick in a decent amount of money he would be a little more expensive for a year and a half what Youkilis was for a year.
There have been rumors that Milwaukee could look to trade off their ace Yovani Gallardo. As much as the Yankees don't need pitching this year, they're still going to need it for the next few years. Gallardo is 27 and having a down year, he still has $24 million coming to him in the next two seasons, but the Yankees won't pay all of that. A rotation of CC Sabathia, Gallardo, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps, Michael Pineda could be better than the rotation we have now.
Corey Hart has not played this year after undergoing knee surgery, so it's unlikely he gets traded. He would help the team in the outfield and as a backup first baseman if he proves to be healthy. His return date is still undetermined, so it looks like he won't have time to look good before the trade deadline, but otherwise the Yankees would have to take on a portion of the $10 million that is owed to him for this season.
The Brewers might have made a mistake signing Lohse and forfeiting a draft pick, but if the Yankees take on his contract they won't have to. If they did they would have to take on a portion of what is left of the $33 million he is owed through 2015, but a deal like that would give the Yankees a solid middle of the rotation veteran for about the same cost as Andy Pettitte or Hiroki Kuroda. They could probably do better, especially for a position they don't really need help in, but injuries could make the Yankees desperate.
Cubs: David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano, Nate Schierholtz, Scott Hairston
If the Yankees want an outfielder, the cubs have plenty to go around. DeJesus could be an option for this year and next when Curtis Granderson leaves. He has a $6.5 million option for next season, but he also can't hit left-handers, which is something the team doesn't need more of. Nate Schietholtz is still arbitration eligible through 2015 and is in the middle of the best season of his career, but he also can't hit lefties. The Yankees could take on a salary dump of the underperforming Scott Hairston, who is owed $5 million between this season and next. As a right-handed hitter he has hit lefties well over his career, so maybe they think a change of scenery will help him.
It seems that maybe the Yankees were better off going with Alfonso Soriano after all. Vernon Wells has an 83 wRC+ on the season, a 108 wRC+ against lefties and is still under contract through 2014. Soriano, on the other hand, has a 100 wRC+ on the season and a 142 wRC+ against lefties. The Yankees would have to pay a portion of the $18 million that is still owed to him this year and next year
, but he will be gone after 2013. The Yankees thought they knew better and still managed to obtain a worse contract, but maybe desperate times call for desperate measures with Soriano.
Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier
The Dodgers have been surprisingly awful this season, though injuries could be what is to blame. Ramirez and Crawford are currently on the DL, but should be back by mid-June. Both were just recently traded for, so unless the team is planning a major overhaul, which I doubt they are, Ramirez seems like the one to go. The Yankees will probably have to kick in some money for whatever is left of the $16 million he is owed this year and he would be able to slot in as the starting shortstop or third baseman on any given day.
The Dodgers have seemingly soured on Andre Ethier and it's been reported they might want to trade him, but the problem is that he's signed through 2018. The Yankees might have taken on Wells' contract and signed up for two years of Ichiro Suzuki, but six years of Ethier at over $15 million a year? I hope not.
Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera
The Indians overhauled their team this season, but they're still under .500 at this point. The Yankees could use an upgrade at shortstop and Derek Jeter is supposed to be close to returning right around the deadline. If it looks like he won't be able to return, the Yankees will have to upgrade at the position because Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Reid Brignac are not going to cut it. Cabrera is at least league-average with the bat, but isn't very good in the field, despite his highlight reel on Sports Center. The Yankees would owe a portion of the $10 million he is due this year, but just how much they take on will determine how realistic this trade could be, especially since he's on the DL right now.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
The only thing of value that the Marlins have is Stanton. He's just 23 years old, under team control until 2017 and the Marlins will surely get a huge haul for him since they aren't going anywhere ever again. If they finally make him available, which is doubtful since they actually need someone people will care about and he just came back from injury, the Yankees should give them anyone and everyone to get him. I'd want to keep Gary Sanchez, but everyone else can go.
Mariners: Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Brendan Ryan, Kelly Shoppach
Regular trading partners in the last few seasons, the Yankees could look to add a bat, like Morse, who could offer depth as a first baseman and a (Raul Ibanez-like) outfielder who can hit lefties and righties. Kendrys Morales is having a great season (130 wRC+), but he doesn't hit lefties as well and can't play the outfield.
If the Yankees want some infield depth they could take Brendan Ryan, who is terrible at the plate, but might be the best defensive shortstop in the game (career 12 UZR/150). You'd be getting below-average production at the plate, but massively improved defense over Nix. If the they want a warm body behind the plate they could always take Kelly Shoppach.
Padres: Nick Hundley, Chase Headley
If the Yankees want an offensive upgrade behind the plate, they could look to Nick Hundley, who is healthy again, but still producing below-average numbers (87 OPS+). The sad thing, though, is that he'd still be an upgrade over Austin Romine. The Padres wouldn't require much in a deal because they already have Yasmani Grandal to take the bulk of the catching duties. The trade would give the Yankees another option behind the plate for 2014 and, if they exercise the built-in team option, 2015 as well, all amounting to $9 million.
If the Yankees want a stopgap solution at third base and an upgrade over Kevin Youkilis and David Adams, Headley would be both. He is arbitration eligible through 2015 and has a career 115 wRC+ to make him both valuable and productive. Unfortunately, he's having a down year, so the Padres would probably rather hold onto him than trade him at low value.
Phillies: Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young
The Phillies might be on the verge of a fire sale. Their longterm contracts have looked like poor decisions and the team is now collapsing, so why not sell off some pieces that could get them something in return. Lee would still bring a good return back, but the Yankees would have to take on a portion of the $50 million that is guaranteed to him for the next two seasons, plus a $27 million option and whatever he is still owed for 2013. That's a lot of money for a pitcher in his late thirties. Yes, Lee is having one of the best seasons of his career, but the Yankees have seen too many longterm contracts blow up in their face. He's good, but is he worth it, especially after all that drama from a few years ago?
The Yankees could really use a shortstop and if Derek Jeter's days on the field are numbered, it might make some sense to bring in someone who can play there. As annoying as he can be, Rollins has been a league-average hitter (career 97 OPS+) and a great defender. He is owed $22 million over the next two seasons, so he would be expensive, but if the Phillies throw in a good amount of money, maybe it could be worth it.
Michael Young might be overrated in his underratedness, but he'd still be the best third baseman on this team if Alex Rodriguez doesn't come back. Given his defensive flexibility he could become a super-sub in the infield and play anywhere he's needed. He isn't actually good in the field, having a negative UZR/150 at every position, but he could play anywhere in a pinch and even DH against lefties. He is making $16 million this year, but $10 million of that is being paid by the Rangers, so if the Phillies took a portion of that $6 million he could be a relatively cheap pickup for a few months.
Twins: Josh Willingham
The Twins are not going anywhere, yet they have a few expensive contracts they probably want to get rid of. Justin Morneau is expensive and serves no purpose to the Yankees as a first baseman/DH who can hit righties. It would be awesome to get Joe Mauer, but he's owed $115 million over the next five seasons and has already faced injuries. What the Yankees could use is Josh Willingham, who can hit lefties and righties (132 wRC+/123 wRC+) and who will be under contract for another year, which will help mitigate the loss of Granderson and the burden of Wells and Ichiro. He would only be $7 million in 2014, which would make him cheaper and better than the options we have now.
White Sox: Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Casper Wells
The White Sox are awful, so it might be time to blow up the team. If the Yankees look to the White Sox they could find someone who can hit lefties, something the team could really use. Paul Konerko might be close to done, but in the final year of his deal he's still beating up lefties. If the Yankees pay a portion of his $13.5 million 2013 salary he could be used in a DH platoon against lefties and provide some real value before he most likely retires.
In the outfield is Alex Rios and Casper Wells; Rios has clobbered lefties this season with a 139 wRC+, while Wells, known for hitting lefties well, has been absolutely terrible at the plate against everyone. If the Yankees wanted Rios he would cost $12.5 million in 2014 and $1 million in 2015 if they decline his option, which they should. That's still a lot of money when they already have two big contracts tying up the outfield this year and next.
So, Pinstripe Bible readers, Who on this list interests you the most?
Who should the Yankees take?
Who should the Yankees avoid?
Do you have a better suggestion who is not listed here?
More on the Trade Deadline
Finding the right fit for hole in Yankees' outfield
MLB Trade Rumors: Giants looking for pitching, could Yankees be a match?