Trades are funny things. Most of them end up getting judged in hindsight, when we really should consider what the circumstances were when the move was made. Judging them in hindsight is often times unfair, but in this post, lets do just that.
Q: The trade deadline is tomorrow. What's your favorite Yankees mid-season trade?
The 2000 trade for David Justice should go down as one of the best in Yankees history. He caught fire as soon as he put his pinstripes on and never looked back, and even carried the Yankees in the ALCS against the Mariners. As good as the Yankees were during that era, people forget that they won 87 games in 2000. If not for the David Justice trade, the Yankees might not even make the playoffs, let alone cement the dynasty.
Honestly, last year's Brandon McCarthy deal. Hilariously cheap. Vidal bleeping Nuno?
I did enjoy some post-trade Bobby Abreu in 2006. That was such a steal and exactly what that lineup needed to really get on a roll and run away with the AL East. Cecil Fielder was similarly awesome in 1996, but my all-time favorite just has to be David Justice in 2000.
Lots of fondly-remembered dynasty members had quietly dismal years in 2000, particularly Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and a declining Paul O'Neill. The only real threats in that lineup prior to the Justice trade were Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and first-time All-Star Jorge Posada. They almost traded for Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez, but Justice ended up being a terrific fit at just the right prospect price.
Remember how much we enjoyed Alfonso Soriano in 2013? He slugged .525 in 58 games. Well, Justice slugged .585 in 78 games, carrying the heart of the Yankees' lineup to a slim AL East victory by just 2.5 games over the Red Sox. They were 38-35 prior to the trade, roughly around the middle of the league. Even with their September slide, they went 49-39 with Justice, the AL's second-best record. Then of course, Justice capped off his 20-homer second half with ALCS MVP honors.
TL;DR version: Justice is the cliche choice, but he's the correct choice for best Yankees deadline acquisition.
My favorite trade deadline deal was the Bobby Abreu trade in 2006, when the Yankees sent C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith for both Abreu and Cory Lidle. Even at the time, this was seen as a total steal. Here's a quote from BP when the trade was made:
"Which basically means that this deal is about the money saved, and whatever the Phillies use it on in the future. Even then, by failing to get value for Abreu, Gillick has failed in his responsibility to help his club, and has perhaps betrayed a fundamental disinterest in the team he inherited from Ed Wade."
Abreu went on to accrue 7 rWAR in his two-and-a-half seasons with the Yankees, and Cashman essentially got that for nothing. There certainly have been #NinjaCash deals in the past, but this one always strikes me as noteworthy in its sheer lopsidedness, even on that day.
Yankees traded for Aaron Boone on July 31, 2003. We all know how that ALCS went!
I was trying to come up with something more obscure, but instead I'll go with an obvious one here. In 2000, the Yankees were struggling to score runs and were hovering just above .500 in June. Amid a lot of rumors about Sammy Sosa, Cashman instead pulled one out of his bald spot and got David Justice from the Indians, who was quietly having a really good year. Justice hit .305/391/.585 with 20 homers over the remainder of the season. He also hit 3 homers and drove in 12 in the playoffs and won the ALCS MVP. I can't think of a Yankee mid-season trade that had more of an impact.
I think my favorite deadline acquisition, at least of recent memory, was David Justice. This trade was technically not a "deadline deal" because it took place on June 29, but I think it cemented the 2000 World Series title. The Yankees, on paper, gave up a lot in prospects Ricky Ledee, Zach Day and Jake Westbrook. Westbrook is the only one that really turned into a solid player over his big league career, though. He spent 13 years in the league as a back-of-the-rotation starter, winning 105 games with a 4.32 ERA. Day jumped around the league and spent 5 years in the majors, putting up a 4.66 ERA, mostly as a starter, but he never played for the Indians (they swapped him to Montreal in the Milton Bradley deal). Ledee, meanwhile, spent 10 years in the bigs as a platoon/fourth outfielder type.
In return, Justice went bonkers in the second half for NYY, hitting .305/.391/.585 with 20 homers and 60 RBI in just 78 games. He won the ALCS MVP against the Mariners that year too. He fell off mightily the next season, but the Yankees were able to flip him for Robin Ventura, who had a couple of good seasons for the squad.
In recent years, one of the best midseason trades the Yankees made was to get Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners. He was awesome for that half-season in 2012. Too bad they had to go and re-sign him to a two year deal so he could be not as good.
I had to think about this one for quite some time. They've had a lot of pretty good mid-season trades, but my answer is going to be friend of the site David Cone. After the heartbreaking, soul crushing season that was 1994, the Yankees were finally poised to make a decent playoff run after years of mediocrity. The strike cut short our best chance in '94 and '95 was not going so well due to injuries, especially a key injury to Jimmy Key. The Yankees needed a pitcher and Stick traded three pitching prospects to the Blue Jays for David Cone. What a trade that wound up being. Ignoring the Dynasty run and the perfect game that came about in the years to follow, the pitchers we traded for Coney never really amounted to anything at all. It wound up being an absolute steal for the Yankees. Plus, he contributed to the greatest & funniest sports commercial ever made.
A lot of great options here, perhaps some recency bias but I'll say Brandon McCarthy. Not the most impactful of all acquisitions, and the team didn't make the postseason, but an impressive revival away from the Diamondbacks to become solid presence in a rotation battered by injury. Obviously bonus points for his genius Twitter account.
I quite liked the Kerry Wood trade in 2010. On deadline day that year, the Yankees sent Andrew Shive and Matt Cusick to Cleveland for the reliever. Seeing as how many of you probably don't know who those two players are, I think the deal worked in our favor. In his time in pinstripes, Wood provided the Yankees with a 631 ERA+ on a team that went to the ALCS. Meanwhile, Shive was last seen playing for Charleston in 2010 and Cusick last played in 2012 in indy ball. Not bad work there, Cash.
Those are our answers, but what other good ones did we miss. Tell us what your favorite Yankees' mid-season trade is.