At 51-41, the New York Yankees hold a 4.5 game lead atop the American League East and have the 3rd best record in the American League. The 2015 Yankees have two major strengths: their power stroke (3rd in AL with 120 Home Runs, 3rd in the AL with .425 slugging percentage) and their lockdown bullpen. Among their four most used relievers (excluding the DFA'd Esmil Rogers), Justin Wilson owns the highest ERA at 2.57. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve all have sub-2.00 ERAs and strike out at least 9.2 batters per 9 innings.
The team right now, while pretty formidable, suffer from a couple of problems: the lack of production from second base (age old problem since Robinson Cano left town) and bullpen overuse (lack of length from the starters). Another problem which has not seen much daylight is whether Carlos Beltran's value on offense outweigh his poor defense. Here is how the Yankees should go about their July deals.
New York Yankees get: Nick Franklin
Tampa Bay Rays get: Austin Romine, PTBNL and/or cash considerations
The switch hitting Nick Franklin has floundered after a solid but unspectacular 2013 where he hit 12 home runs, 20 doubles and had a .686 OPS with the Mariners in 102 games. He also played solid defense at the keystone. Since then, he has a sub-.500 OPS. This is mainly due to sporadic playing time (56 games from 2014-15). His value has been at an all time low until recently. He is on a hot streak at Triple-A Durham, where he is currently slashing .305/.376/.537 in 25 games. With Stephen Drew still hitting like a pumpkin, getting Nick Franklin could pay off if he returns to his 2013 form. At his peak, he could be a 15-15 guy with good defense. At worst, he provides competition for Robert Refsnyder.
New York Yankees get: Joseph DeCarlo
Seattle Mariners get: Carlos Beltran, PTBNL and 10 million (2.5 million for 2015 and 7.5 million for 2016)
The Mariners need offense badly, ranking 14th in runs scored and near the cellar of many offensive categories. Coupled with recent reports that Nelson Cruz will be DH-ing more due to fatigue, adding the bat of Carlos Beltran could provide them with somewhat of a boost. After a horrid April, he has recovered nicely to post an .816 OPS in May and .865 OPS in June. In the same two month span, he's batting .300. He is a defensive liability in the worst way, but with the M's lack of offense, it'd be easier to swallow. They could line up Seth Smith/Franklin Gutierrez in left field, Austin Jackson in center with both Beltran and Cruz splitting time in right field. The Yankees would have to take on half of Beltran's salary for the M's to even consider though. The Yankees also get a third base propsect who is projected to be a good defender, but his bat has not caught up yet (.229 average in the minors, currently in A-Ball). With Eric Jagielo probably having to move across the diamond, 21 year old DeCarlo would give the Yankees depth at the hot corner.
New York Yankees get: Shane Greene
Detroit Tigers get: Ivan Nova
Remember when Didi Gregorius was worse than 2014 Derek Jeter both at the plate and on the field while Shane Greene pitched like a CY Young candidate through his first three starts? How the tables have turned since then. Shane Greene was recently demoted to Triple-A to work some stuff out and recalled only to be hammered in his next two starts again. Didi, while not great, has been good enough to stick at shortstop. Now, people maybe be wondering why do I want to trade Nova for Shane Greene. There are two reasons
a. Reinserting Adam Warren into the rotation while potentially opening up a spot for Luis Severino. With Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi and CC (due to the money owed) locked in to the rotation, the only way to open up a spot is to trade Nova, who is also an impending free agent. Warren was pretty good when starting, even though his peripherals weren't great. He was effective due to his 24.6% Hard Contact Rate, a career low and the lowest among all the Yankee starters. If Warren is yanked from the rotation due to his innings limit, then the Yankees can call upon their number 1 prospect Severino, a propsect who the fans have been salivating over for quite a while.
b. Shane Greene's repertoire has not been used effectively enough in Detroit. His slider, which was his most effective strikeout pitch, has seen a severe usage drop from 16.47% in 2014 to just 9.72%. His strikeouts has seen a sharp decline, from a 9.3 K/9 in 2014 to just 5.5 K/9 in 2015. If New York catchers got to call Greene's games, I'm sure he'd go back to being a solid number 4 instead of a pitcher equivalent to your faceless Triple-A player.
With Detroit needing pitching while having a barren farm system, I don't think that they'd say no to trading away their number 5 for a potential number 3 in Nova, even if its for only half a season. This may seem like a weird trade for the Yankees, but this is one way to improve the rotation.
So after the three deals, the roster will look something like this
C: Brian McCann
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robert Refsnyder
3B: Chase Headley
SS: Didi Gregorius
LF: Brett Gardner
CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
RF: Chris Young
DH: Alex Rodriguez
Bench: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B/RF Garrett Jones, 2B/SS Nick Franklin, OF Ramon Flores
Joe Girardi can mix and match for the infield with Nick Franklin shifting between second base and shortstop. Obviously Stephen Drew is cut and Brendan Ryan is either at Triple-A or cut as well. We'll go with a semi platoon in right field, letting Chris Young get more at bats against RHP.
Adam Warren/ Luis Severino
Bullpen: Bryan Mitchell (Recalled), Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez (Recalled), Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller
With Shane Greene back and ready to start if needed, I'd recall Mitchell and Ramirez to give the bullpen two live right arms. Warren could be back in the bullpen again if he hits a wall, and Severino or Greene will step up into the rotation.