Despite the fact that the Yankees currently sit in the fourth place in the AL East and have hovered at or around .500 all season, Hal Steinbrenner is looking toward buying instead of selling at the trade deadline next month. There is, of course, plenty of baseball to be played between now and then that could change or strengthen his position, but it seems difficult to justify his ideas right now.
Steinbrenner told media on Monday that he believes his team will be “right smack in the middle of it” as the trade deadline approaches. The Yankees have certainly shown signs of being better than their record at times, but they’ve generally followed those promising stretches with utterly disappointing stretches.
Losing three games to the Rockies and Twins last week was a perfect illustration of that. Not being able to take advantage of favorable scheduling makes their chances of climbing out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves more and more unlikely.
Whether or not the team can stay healthy seems to be Steinbrenner’s biggest concern about the team between now and when he has to make the decision on whether to buy or sell. That is, obviously, a big concern with the team, but certainly not the only one.
Is anyone in the front office ready to bench a struggling Mark Teixeira in favor of anyone who could be acquired via trade? Probably not. The rotation has been pretty healthy aside from Luis Severino, but there have been plenty of struggles there outside of CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka.
The Yankees are a business and their fans believe that they should compete for a championship every year. Selling off at the trade deadline would be an admission of failure in that aspect by the team, even if it does make the most sense based on their standings. Even though a chunk of fans seem ready to sell off any tradable pieces, there are many who simply wouldn’t pay to see the lackluster product left after a fire sale. Steinbrenner likely knows that and wants to factor it into his position.
Buying for a team that can’t seem to shake .500 seems a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It would mean giving up assets in order to try and plug holes that may be beyond fixing. It would give the illusion of going for it, whatever that is worth, but it’s difficult to imagine them bringing in the pieces necessary to make a real meaningful run at the World Series.
Selling could net them some interesting returns. Carlos Beltran is having a fantastic season in the last year of his deal and could be a valuable bat for a contender. Aroldis Chapman is a free agent at the end of the year, and it would be nice to get something for him from a team in need of bullpen help. There isn’t an overwhelming amount to sell, but there is enough to get a couple intriguing pieces for the future.
There is also the option of standing pat and letting the chips fall where they may. Maybe the team plays better down the stretch and finds a way to sneak into the second Wild Card spot or something to that effect. However, the team just doesn’t seem good enough to invest trade deadline deals in at this time. Maybe things are different this time next month and that opinion will change. If things are still similar to the way they are now, the Yankees should definitely not be buyers.
What do you think of Hal’s comments about the trade deadline? Is he just giving lip service and saying what fans want to hear, or does he actually believe this team is capable of a postseason run?