As we move closer to the trade deadline at the end of the month, it might be time to assess what the Yankees have at the MLB level and figure out what they need going forward. The Yankees need to upgrade at several positions, but whether or not they'll be able to make a move that makes sense is far from determined just yet. The options available to them are lacking and in the end it could be determined that sitting tight is the best course of action instead of trading off valuable pieces for rentals.
Whatever else they plan to do, the Yankees absolutely need to add some kind of pitching. Preferably starting over relieving, but either would be an acceptable addition. The Yankees don't seem to be interested in pulling the trigger on a deal for Cole Hamels, so rentals like Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija could be their best bet. They might be interested in long-term, cost-controlled pitchers as well, but those types of deals usually happen in the offseason, like with Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees' current rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and CC Sabathia is full of uncertainties and question marks, so another arm in the mix would be a great addition and could finally lead to CC being pushed out.
Short of finding another starting pitcher, the Yankees could choose instead to go after a right-handed reliever, something they sorely lacked before Adam Warren was moved to the bullpen. At the moment, the team might not need another arm with Warren back and Andrew Miller soon to return, but if Warren ever returns to the rotation, they could look to make a trade in order to bolster the pitching staff, despite a weak rotation.
As for position players, there might not be much of an upgrade available, considering that most of the trade candidates out there are either having disappointing seasons or will likely cost too much as a rental. Still, the Yankees need to find a way to improve at second base over Stephen Drew. Ben Zobrist is really the team's best and only option at this point, unless they plan to take on someone like Alexei Ramirez, Brandon Phillips, or Juan Uribe. Especially when it doesn't seem like they'll be calling up Rob Refsnyder any time soon.
Didi Gregorius has started hitting against right-handers, so there's no real need to replace him, but neither he nor Drew have been able to hit lefties, making finding a player who can hit southpaws to be essential. Jose Pirela has not hit much, Brendan Ryan can't stay healthy, and Gregorio Petit isn't much better. It seems that what the Yankees could really use is a middle infielder who can come in off the bench and play against left-handers. Unfortunately, the pickings there are slim and this isn't a move that will save the season.
A scary thought is that with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Slade Heathcott, and Mason Williams all hurt, the team's outfield depth is stretched pretty thin. If it gets any worse or if one of these players (especially Ellsbury and Beltran) prove to be out for a significant amount of time, the Yankees might actually be forced to make a move just to keep the roster filled with competent major leaguers. Chris Young should not be allowed to face right-handed pitching and Garrett Jones is not much of an outfielder to begin with, so players like Justin Upton and Gerardo Parra might be the best options out there as their teams look to sell at the deadline. Hopefully it doesn't come to that and they won't have to waste precious resources on an outfield that should be a strength if everyone can get healthy again.
The Yankees are likely going to be in the middle of trade rumors over the next few weeks, but it's no sure thing that they'll come away with anyone new that can help turn this mediocre team around. Of course, no one saw the Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy, and Martin Prado moves coming before they fell into place. We can speculate all we want, but things are different when general managers sit down and talk actual names and numbers. Brian Cashman should be able to deal his way into a better team like he did last year. We just have to wait and see who ends up being available.