Even with the past couple days of victories, it's been a slow start to the 2016 season for the Yankees. They sit 11-17 and while they are just five games back of the first place Orioles and Red Sox, they are in last place. There have been plenty of cries from Yankees fans on social media begging for some kind of change the jump-start the team.
So on Thursday, I asked the fans how they would fix the 2016 Yankees.The catch was that they could only suggest one roster move apiece. We received 372 suggestions about what to do with the team. Obviously, there were a decent amount that were just "Fire Girardi" or "Fire Cashman," so take that as you will, but that wasn't the point of this exercise. This was only focusing on the team on the field.
There were also plenty of wild trades thrown out there, but most of them were thrown out since they either weren't realistic or presumed the team was already selling. Since some people wanted to buy and some people wanted to sell, it forced me to choose because the exercise would make no sense with both ideas in mind.,I chose "buy" because there are 134 games of baseball left in the season. With these ground rules in mind, I tried to follow the roster moves of what the majority of suggestions seemed to encourage
Warning: This is going to get wacky anyway and I do not condone all of these moves. So it goes!
DFA Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran, Dustin Ackley, and Austin Romine
Right off the bat, almost 20 percent of the active roster is going to change. Out with the old and in with the new. Chase Headley is on the hook through the end of 2018 with around $36 million still owed to him, but he is definitely off to one of the worst starts of his career. Headley hasn't had an extra base hit in 112 plate appearances and he is hitting .169/.261/.169 with a 23 wRC+ in 24 games. So the fans want to cut ties.
Beltran is also a bit of a hefty cut since the team owes him about $12 million for the rest of the year. Despite his hot start (and equally hot second half last year) though, he is hitting .243/.259/.408 with a 79 wRC+ in 28 games. So he's gone too. Ackley has been lifeless off the bench, but Romine has actually had a nice start in limited time. He's not as exciting as a certain prospect though, so off he goes.
Call up Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, Nick Swisher, and Gary Sanchez
Here is the youth movement (kind of) that fans want to see. Judge takes a spot in right field, Sanchez moves into a backup role to Brian McCann, and Refsnyder splits time at third base with Ronald Torreyes. Hopefully not as many ground balls hit Refsnyder in the face at the hot corner as they did in spring training. This isn't strictly a youth movement per se, as Swisher also came up from Triple-A to at least cover the Alex Rodriguez DH role with Carlos Beltran gone. Fans also called for the power-hitting Sanchez and McCann to alternate time at DH and catcher, so they will have to move into some kind of platoon. I imagine Swisher would be gone with a bad week.
Trade Brett Gardner for Erik Johnson, demote Luis Severino
This is a silly trade in my opinion, but so many people called for Gardner to be traded and he was only player where I could kind of see a trade making sense as a contender. (Plus I didn't want to assume too much about what a GM wanted in return.) Gardner wasn't going to fetch Todd Frazier, Ryan Braun, Jake Odorizzi, or Jose Fernandez. I felt obligated to trade him for whatever seemed most logical since one person said "Trade Brett Gardner as fast as possible as he is a strikeout/groundout batter much too often." So Gardner is gone and the outfield is now Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Judge. (There were demands to trade Hicks too, but Gardner's trade value is higher.)
So you get Erik Johnson, a 26-year-old righthanded starter from the White Sox who was a top 100 prospect in 2014 but only had 92 ERA+ in 17 big league starts. Maybe he can be a project of some kind. Hey, he was the only suggestion where I felt almost positive that the other GM would accept the deal. Oh, and to find a spot in the rotation, I had to send Severino down to work on his approach since there were several requests to demote him.
Sign Tim Lincecum and Yulieski Gourriel
There were requests to sign Lincecum and Gourriel, so they are now on the 40-man roster. Lincecum would need a little time to tune up in the minors and then perhaps there would be a rotation or bullpen spot available for when he is ready (if he is ready). Gourriel is not eligible to sign just yet, but GM Mearns came to a handshake agreement with his agent for when he is cleared to sign. He is a more legitimate third base option for when he is eligible to play than Refsnyder or Torreyes, so that is the long-term plan with Headley gone.
Make a play for Ender Inciarte, Ryan Braun, or Trevor Plouffe
These were other players discussed in trade suggestions who I think could make some sense if the teams came to an agreement. I couldn't assume how much each team wanted for these players though, but I would at least monitor them. Either of Braun or Inciarte (who the rebuilding Braves have basically no incentive to keep) would provide a solution in the outfield, and Plouffe would slot in nicely at third.
So here the new Yankees, for now:
C Brian McCann
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Starlin Castro
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Ronald Torreyes/Rob Refsnyder
LF Aaron Hicks
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Aaron Judge/Ben Gamel
DH Nick Swisher/Gary Sanchez (A-Rod DL)
SP Masahiro Tanaka
SP Michael Pineda
SP Nathan Eovaldi
SP Erik Johnson
SP Ivan Nova (CC Sabathia DL)
Bullpen's all the same.
As an added bonus, here are my 10 favorite completely batshit roster move suggestions, in no particular order:
- "Trade Ivan Nova to Julio Urias"
- "Cut all white players."
- Send Miller to Rockies for Nolan Arenado and Tyler Chatwood
- "trade dellin betances for a yangervis solarte, dfa chase headley"
- Trade Miller to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson and prospects
- Trade for a player like Manny Machado get rid of Headley and Ivan Nova
- Trade Chase Headley, Andrew Miller, Gary Sanchez, and Jacob Lindgren to the Cubs for Kris Bryant. Eat all contracts.
- Trade Aaron Hicks for Ryan Braun
- Trade Chasen Shreve & Ivan Nova to Twins for Miguel Sano
- Demote the hitting and pitching coaches to AAA and promote the Scranton ones
Honorable mentions go to the people who wanted to reacquire Mark Reynolds for prospects, call up the injured High-A pitcher James Kaprielian, and the person who wanted to release A-Rod and call up Dante Bichette Jr.