The Yankees might be only one game over .500, but they are just two games out of a wild card spot. Fans might be able to say that it’s time to sell, but the Yankees still feel like there’s a chance, even if it’s a fool’s chance. The team has played well against some weaker teams, but once they face better competition we will see if the illusion of competing is lifted.
The Yankees refuse to talk about giving up on the season, and with over a month left before the trade deadline, it’s easy to see why they aren’t looking to sell just yet. Still, rumors have circulated about who they might trade in a potential sell-off, and whether or not it would include long-term pieces like Andrew Miller.
I’m not saying I am a proponent of trading someone like Miller, who is still signed through 2018, but if they were to do it at all, this is the season to do it. The reason is that there are far too many closers on the market next offseason, giving Miller much more value during the 2016 season than this winter.
Teams will have closers like Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Ziegler, and Santiago Casilla available, with good potential rebound arms in Sergio Romo and Drew Storen on the market, too. It’s a pretty poor free agent class, but it makes up for its lack of talent with a serious flush of top-of-the-line relievers who can be signed for only cash.
The Yankees are also in a unique position because, despite all those relievers about to hit the open market, only Mark Melancon of the Pirates and Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks are on non-contenders and could get traded. Everyone else is likely staying put, making Andrew Miller an incredibly valuable piece for a team looking to stabilize their bullpen now and in the future.
Teams like the Cubs, Nationals, Giants, Dodgers, and Rangers have already shown interest in some of the Yankees’ relievers, and it would be no stretch to hear the Mariners, Cardinals, and Indians also get in on the sweepstakes for a game-changing reliever.
Essentially, the Yankees have a perfect storm of reasons to trade Andrew Miller this summer, but if they choose not to, the offseason wouldn’t be the best time to make a move. Teams would much rather sign players to their own deals for only cash over taking on another deal and having to give up valuable young talent in return, especially when other elite talent like Chapman or Jansen are available.
I’m still not in favor of trading Miller, because moving him is essentially an admission that the Yankees don’t expect to compete over the next few seasons. The thing is that high-end free agents are becoming less and less common, so it’s a good idea to hold onto the talent that you do have because the days of simply reloading in the free agent pool are vanishing. You could say that the Yankees can trade Miller now, and then re-sign Chapman or bring in another reliever to pair with Dellin Betances, but I would say that they already have the better pitcher.
It doesn’t look like they will be able to improve their rotation on the free agent market any time soon, so it’s a good idea to keep the bullpen nice and strong. Unless they are acquiring a front-line starter for Miller, which is not happening, they are better to hold onto their strength and hope that the farm system can make up for what they currently lack.
The Yankees should look into trading Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and maybe even Mark Teixeira if he can hold together long enough. It’s not even a terrible idea to consider moving someone like Brett Gardner as well, but Miller should be considered part of the future. It’s just that if they were to ever make a move, it has to be now, otherwise it’s just not worth it. nsc