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Reevaluating the Yankees' trade pieces

How shiny are the Yankees' trade chips from the other side of the deal?

It's always hard for fans to come up with realistic trades that would be considered fair for both side. When you actively root for a team, you tend to either overvalue or undervalue their prospects. They're not just names on a page, they're "your" prospects, and love them or hate them, you know them more than the fans of other teams do. Still, it's hard to not have a bias when you're a fan.

We spend so much time dreaming up ways the Yankees can improve their team without thinking whether or not their hypothetical trading partner would actually agree to such a deal. Even among actual major league officials, agreeing to a deal is hard because each team has different needs and value different things. That's why I thought it would only be fair to see what the other half thinks. I spoke to some of our SB Nation sister sites, whose teams could use our trade chips, in order to see what they would, realistically, give up in a fair trade.

I talked to Jim Margalus, managing editor for South Side Sox to get an idea of what he felt John Ryan Murphy and Francisco Cervelli were really worth to them. The White Sox have been known to need a catcher; they collectively finished third from the bottom according to WAR (-0.9) among all 30 teams in 2013. They also currently rank 30th in Fangraphs' positional power rankings at catcher (1.6 WAR across five candidates). If any team could use one of the Yankees' excess catchers, it's the White Sox, but what can the Yankees expect in return?

Jim actually submitted an interesting trade proposal:

If I could take Murphy's progress/reports at face value, he and Marcus Semien would seem to be comparable prospects for a 1-for-1 trade, or a 1(plus)-for-1 trade.

Semien would actually be a very useful player for the Yankees. He's only 23, he can play shortstop, third base, and second base, and is still cost controlled after only debuting for a handful of games in 2013. He's a right-handed hitter, but with both Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano leaving after this season, it would be nice to have someone who can hit lefties (.846 OPS), but not totally be useless against righties as well (.782 OPS).

Giving up Murphy might be hard, but as Jim alludes to, there's a fair chance that the 22-year-old catcher's 2013 performance wasn't as indicative of his true abilities as we would all like to hope. Murphy may have had a 116 wRC+ in the minors last season, but after averaging his projections between Steamer, Oliver, and ZiPS, he's only projected for an 82 wRC+ in the majors this season. He's also projected for a 1.2 WAR while Marcus Semien has a 1.7 WAR. If both are expected to have around the same value in 2014, it could make sense to swap them so that each team has the value at the position they need the most. The Yankees need infielders more than they need catchers and Chicago needs a catcher more than they need another infielder. With both players blocked from a full-time job in the majors, it could make sense to swap the two prospects and hope it pays off for both parties. If the White Sox were willing, I'd have to pull the trigger.

He also spoke a little more about Francisco Cervelli and the reality of a Gordon Beckham trade:

They seem kinda cut from the same cloth to me -- guys who are perpetually one excuse away from being more valuable than they actually are. Cervelli might be a proven backup catcher, but he's also had 200 plate appearances over the last three years, so it's hard to get excited about that.

Likewise, I can see Beckham's current skills getting a boost from playing on the Yankees. He's a good second baseman, but I have a feeling his metrics have been bogged down throughout the years by being positioned to compensate for playing next to the least mobile first basemen in the league. Also, his good swing is tailored for right field. Throw him in Yankee Stadium, and maybe the park factors fall in his favor.

Making a trade for Beckham wouldn't be the sexiest thing in the world. He hasn't hit at an above-average rate since his rookie year in 2009, he's rated poorly on defense (-13 DRS), and his 1.0 WAR in 2013 was actually the second-best mark of his career. On the positive side, he's only 27 and still has another two seasons under team control. While he's a right-handed batter, he actually hits well to the opposite field (144 wRC+), so maybe this is enough to, at least, make Beckham a worthwhile gamble.

As it was with Murphy and Semien, both Cervelli and Beckham are projected to be worth the same at about one WAR apiece. I think if I had the choice, I'd take Cervelli's value and move it to second base, where it could be more useful than Brian Roberts (0.3 WAR). At the very least, A Cervelli-Beckham trade would give the Yankees a less injury-prone option at second base than Roberts does and the Yankees wouldn't have to worry about who will play second base by the beginning of May.

Nick Kane of AZSnakepit felt differently about Cervelli when I asked about the price for Didi Gregorius:

I'd want more than Cervelli, I'd most certainly want some sort of starting pitcher back. I personally have a pretty high price for Didi. I'm fairly convinced he'll figure out how to hit LHP and 270ish with pop and PLUS PLUS D is really valuable in a SS.

I would agree that Cervelli won't be enough to get the job done, but could David Phelps and Cervelli make a deal? I don't know. The Diamondbacks just lost their ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery and Bronson Arroyo has a bulging disk, so they could obviously use pitching, plus they want a solid backup catcher behind Miguel Montero, so this package would make sense for their needs. However, with the rash of injuries going around and a rotation full of question marks in CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and, likely, Michael Pineda, it might make more sense to hold onto as much depth as possible in order to be more prepared for an injury than other teams have been. Didi Gregorius might be nice to have and could definitely be attainable if the Yankees really want him, but he's no proven commodity and with all the injuries, it makes me feel like they should be careful about such things.