Thursday's trade deadline was full of 12 trades that saw big names such as Jon Lester, David Price, and Yoenis Cespedes change teams for the stretch run. The Yankees were not players in any of the big name trades that went down, instead choosing to continue the trend of making incremental upgrades to their team without trading away their top prospects to do so. Including trades that happened ahead of Thursday's deadline, here is how the Yankees have upgraded their team this trade season.
LHP Vidal Nuno traded to Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Brandon McCarthy
The first Ninja Cash move of the season saw him trade Nuno to Arizona in return for McCarthy and cash. Nuno had worn out his welcome in New York after being moved into the rotation due to injuries. His 5.42 ERA and 1.73 HR/9 numbers were ugly, especially being particularly prone to fly balls in the smaller confines of Yankee Stadium. Cashman flipped Nuno for a more proven commodity in McCarthy, who has thrived in his starts since the trade. McCarthy credits returning to his cutter, a pitch that the Diamondbacks didn't want him to throw. Nuno has done alright for himself since switching to the NL, but I think most Yankee fans are pretty happy with the switch off, especially now that some improved infield defense should help with McCarthy's ground balls.
IF Yangervis Solarte and RHP Rafael De Paula traded to San Diego Padres for 3B Chase Headley
Solarte had been the star of the Yankees for the first month of the season before falling on harder times as the season wore on. He was optioned to Triple-A for a brief stint after his struggles became an unavoidable issue. The career minor leaguer before 2014 will always have a special place in Yankee fans' hearts for being the reason the team finally gave up on their undying love for Eduardo Nunez. Rafael De Paula has an electric arm that may carry him to the majors, but concerns about his identity and whether or not he is destined for the bullpen made him an expendable piece in the eyes of the Yankees. The strikeout numbers are dazzling but the walks have been a concern. Parting with both players was worth getting Headley in return, who has hit very well in his brief time with the Yankees. He also plays a sparkling third base, which has already been evident since he switched coasts and uniforms.
It's possible that Headley spends the rest of the year auditioning for the Yankees' plans beyond 2014, since it seems unwise to count on Alex Rodriguez spending meaningful time in the field after being out of baseball for practically two seasons. This is another trade where people on both sides seem pretty content with their return so far. Solarte has hit well in his new west coast home and Headley's bat lengthens a Yankee lineup that desperately needs some pop in it.
IF Kelly Johnson traded to Boston Red Sox for SS Stephen Drew
The Yankees and Red Sox haven't traded with one another since 1997 until minutes before the 2014 4:00 pm deadline. Kelly Johnson, who is currently on the disabled list with a groin issue, was sent to Boston in return for shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew went unsigned until quite late in the season after his offseason demands proved to be more than teams were willing to pay. As a result, his numbers have been ugly after a very slow start. He has heated up recently, though, and the Yankees will be hoping that that is a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. Drew won't be playing shortstop as he is accustomed to, though. Instead, he'll be sliding over to play second base with Derek Jeter entrenched at shortstop.
You can argue that Johnson didn't get the fairest shake with the Yankees, playing out of position for most of his time in New York. He played basically everywhere except second base while Brian Roberts stayed surprisingly healthy. He proved himself not to really be adequate at first base in Mark Teixeira's absence and he wasn't great at third base. He won't get to play second base in Boston either, due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees obviously felt like the defensive upgrade was worth whatever offense they may be sacrificing in the swap.
The final move of the day saw the Yankees upgrade their right field situation by acquiring Martin Prado from Arizona. After Carlos Beltran's elbow rendered him unable to play the outfield, Ichiro Suzuki has had to become the every day right fielder. As expected, playing every day turned Ichiro from helpful bench bat into dead weight with a sub-80 wRC+. Bringing in Prado will allow Ichiro to move back to the bench as the 4th outfielder. Prado also brings the benefit of playing two infield positions, which will help when Joe Girardi needs to give players the day off.
Peter O'Brien's power display in the minors this year has been nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, the home run show has been about all that would impress you on O'Brien's resume. The Yankees had pretty much given up on O'Brien's future behind the plate as a catcher. A brief stint at third base was quickly abandoned and a short trial in the outfield didn't render positive results either. He'd been moved to first base pretty permanently with the Trenton Thunder, likely under the guise that anyone can play first base or fake it enough to get by. The Diamondbacks have Miguel Montero locked up behind the plate and Paul Goldschmidt is entrenched at first. The National League hasn't gotten with the times and adopted the DH yet, so it's unclear how O'Brien fits into their future plans. As if that wasn't enough, O'Brien practically refuses to walk and has his strikeouts pile up at an alarming rate. That combination doesn't usually spell good things for the future. That being the case, it's easy to see why the Yankees were willing to part with such an impressive power source.
Which of these moves do you think helped the Yankees the most? Which former Yankee are you most disappointed to see go?