This trade deadline stands in stark contrast to last year's, in more ways than one. As of July 31, 2014, the Yankees were 55-52 and five games out of first place. In that year they acquired Stephen Drew, Martin Prado, Chase Headley, and Brandon McCarthy for Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte, Rafael De Paula, Vidal Nuno, and Peter O'Brien. This year they acquired... Dustin Ackley.
Just by glancing at what the Blue Jays did this deadline, it seems odd that last year they made so many trades and did so little this season. From one way of thinking, it makes sense to make a move. The Yankees have not made the postseason since 2012 and are quite anxious to be in October. They currently sit at a 78% chance to win the division, and a 92-93% chance to make the postseason overall, depending on whose odds you read. Some would think that this is the best chance to push your chips forward.
Well, not according to Brian Cashman. There were rumblings that they would trade for Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman, or maybe swing a deal for a starter like Mike Leake. Instead they did nothing except acquire Dustin Ackley for Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez, and actually, this all makes some sense.
When the Yankees made their flurry of deals in 2014, they gave up little of consequence. They boosted their odds by a couple of percentage points by giving up players no one wants on the roster today, and they were able to roll those deals into a long-term deal for Headley and a trade for Nathan Eovaldi. This year, there were no deals like that. The possible deals with San Diego would require at least Jorge Mateo and eating a poor contract, and the cost of Chapman would likely be similar. Why would the front office pay a premium for an area of strength, only to boost their postseason odds by a trivial amount? There were no Headley's or McCarthy's available, so it would be silly to force a move when the right one didn't present itself.
In a way, being in this position is the best time to stand pat. There's no reason to get desperate, no reason to overpay, and other teams have little leverage to hold an ultimatum of "You might not make the postseason without my player" over Cashman's head. The Yankees have an excellent chance of making the postseason no matter what they did, and there was no reason to pay in that situation. And if the Yankees collapse, this won't be because they didn't make a move. This would mean that the whole team falls the pieces, and I doubt Mike Leake saves them from that.
As Andrew said in his post about the deadline, the front office has to walk the fine line between going for it and saving their prospects, and it's possible to do both. Giving up Luis Severino for David Price would boost their division odds closer to 90%, but it would also rob them of their best pitching prospect in years just for a slightly-better chance of making the postseason, in a year when their odds are already incredibly good. It also wouldn't guarantee a World Series championship, because even the best rotations (cough cough, 2011 Phillies) fall apart in a short series. It will boost your odds, surely, but I'm not giving away a top 25 prospect in baseball to make my odds increase by 5-10% in a five game series.
In reality, we don't know what happened in the war room. Maybe there were other possible deals on the table that we don't know about, but that's why I am a blogger and not the director of baseball operations. If it comes out that an excellent deal was on the table and they balked to preserve their assets, then maybe I'll be upset. Considering there weren't players like Prado and Headley available for spare parts, then I'm not that upset by this deadline. The Yankees are in a great position to make a postseason run, and if they get there, you close your eyes and flip a coin. Hopefully, it pans out. And if it doesn't, they kept players like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Greg Bird, players that could help them in the not-too-distant future.
What do you think? Should the Yankees have stood pat, or should they have made more moves?