Trades to Make Heading into 2018

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As I first looked at this offseason I thought that the only real external move that the Yankees should make was to heavily pursue Shohei Otani. Other vacancies could be filled by re-signing players such as Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and from with-in by rising prospects like Chance Adams, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, and eventually next season Gleyber Torres. But as I’ve thought about the competition next season, Houston has a very strong young core that isn’t going anywhere and will probably take a step or two to address their glaring bullpen weakness. Cleveland will be strong again in the AL Central, and if Kluber and Bradley Zimmer were healthy in the playoffs it could have been a different series this year. Boston also figures to add a big bat, rumors I’ve heard lean towards J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Abreu or even 2 of the 3 which could have a big impact on their lineup and the AL East. If they Yankees want to not just make the playoffs but avoid the Wild card and advance to the ALCS and World Series they will need to make some tweaks to improve.

Jordan Montgomery: What you say? There is no way you trade a left handed pitcher coming off a rookie season that will see him finish top 5 in rookie of the year voting… But this is not an isolated move…

Cubs: Kyle Schwarber – I know some fans are probably sour on Schwarber after his early season struggles this year… but let me put something in perspective for you… Schwarber is younger than Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez. He has now played in three postseasons that have resulted in LCS or World Series runs. I would love to put him at DH hitting 5th in the Yankees lineup for the next 6-10 years, as I think he would average 40-45 HR a season and give the Yankees the best DH in the game. The Cubs wouldn’t part with Schwarber for Aroldis Chapman a few seasons ago, but things have changed. Schwarber struggled mightily early in this season, even earning a brief demotion to AAA, but rebounded to post an .890 OPS after the All-Star break, and a .953 OPS in September, finishing with 30HR in what is probably going to stand out on his baseball card as his worst season. Even then his defense leaves a lot to be desired, and really strips away from his value. He posted a -1.4 Defense WAR according to Baseball Reference this season, and really should be a DH in the American League. I think that Schwarber in Yankee Stadium that was built for hitters like him would put up tremendous numbers. Nelson Cruz was the best DH in the American League this season with a .923 OPS, and that was good enough for a 4.4 WAR at the position. Based on Schwarber’s 2nd half, I think he could easily approach, match and beat that OPS and WAR for a 5-7 year run. Now to fill the hole in the rotation.

Offer: Jordan Montgomery to CHC for Kyle Schwarber

David Robertson – This one is going to catch some flak, so I’ll say I love D-Rob, but he is a piece that scores a solid value on return. Robertson is going to turn 33 years old just after opening day and coming off a career high in innings pitched. This also included the longest outing of his career during the Wild Card game and many very high leverage and stress innings down the stretch. I suspect that Robertson will regress to some degree next season, and he is also scheduled to make $13M in 2018. The Yankees already have if not the best, one of the best bullpens in baseball with Chapman, Green, Kahnle, Warren and Betances They also have young power arms waiting in the wing with Domingo German, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder and Domingo Acevedo poised to step into or increase their bullpen roles next season. The Washington Nationals might be very interested in Robertson as they have still yet to win a playoff series and probably see their window closing just a little in the last year of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy’s contracts.

Nationals: The Nationals top two prospects are outfielders rated in the top 40 on MLB pipeline. While #2 Victor Robles is near MLB ready and almost certainly out of the question, 19 year old, RF, #36 in MLB Pipelines rankings, Juan Soto is a realistic get for this. To put #36 in perspective, this is the neighborhood where Blake Rutherford started last season, and Estevan Florial is probably going to start next season between 20-40 based on the takes of several scouts I’ve seen.

Offer: David Robertson +$4M for Juan Soto and PTBNL

I would then float a couple of moonshot type trades, and make the other team say no, and maybe lay the groundwork for a deal if these teams get off to a rough start and move towards a major overhaul:

Mets: Jacob Degrom (Juan Soto, Chance Adams, Nick Solak, +1 more)

Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, Juan Soto, +1 more)

More realistically I’d try to lock down one of the following from teams entering rebuilding periods, or facing their own budget constraints

Tigers: Michael Fulmer (Juan Soto, Albert Abreu, Nick Solak, PTBN) (I don’t know if I hate him for plunking Gary and setting off the events that lead to the brawl in August, or love him for being an enforcer on the mound… I suspect if he is on my team I’ll love him) Tigers would probably want you to take one of their bad contracts back also (Jordan Zimmerman, Victor Martinez)

Pirates: Gerrit Cole (Albert Abreu, Tyler Wade, Trevor Stephan) – Cole is coming up on Arbitration, and has seen his ERA jump the last two seasons, and his HR/9 jump from .5, to 1.4 this season. The ever cost conscious Pirates might want to move Cole for young pieces this offseason.

Royals: Danny Duffy (Dillon Tate, Tyler Wade, Gerritt Copper, PTBNL) – Duffy has never had a workhorse type of season peaking around 170 IP. He is generally good when he pitches but has had injuries that make me not offer the best pieces in the system.

The other move to make is to clear roster and salary more than improve directly. Trading Jacoby Ellsbury would help cut payroll and open up a valuable 40 man roster spot. Ellsbury of course is hard to trade with him being owed $21.1M over each of the next three seasons, and then a $5M buyout on the end. After a very good August and September, Ellbury’s value will probably never be higher for the remainder of his time as a Yankee. Ellsbury’s no-trade clause could complicate things, but if he see an opportunity to play on a regular basis, I think he will take it.

Where does he go?

One option is to trade Ellsbury for another bad contract. San Francisco and Jeff Samardzija is one option, but Samardzija for all still had over 200IP and 200K last season, meaning the Yankees would have to kick in a decent prospect, as the Giants could count on him to bring some return or at least be mostly taken off the books by a Pitching hungry team this offseason. They are also bringing in a new pitching coach this year, and may hope that Samardzija could improve on a few small things and then either bring a bigger return at the trade deadline, or be a solid piece for them moving forward. Detroit would love to dump Jordan Zimmerman, Victor Martinez, and probably Miguel Cabrera’s contracts this offseason, but there is just nothing there for the Yankees unless they felt very confident they could return Zimmerman to at least 80% of the pitcher he was in Washington.

I think more likely the Yankees will look to dump Ellsbury for as much salary as they can get off the books. I’d start by offering to pay $11M per year and half of the buyout, with a return of essentially a player to be named later. This would still clear over $10M per year for the next three years. I’d be willing to pay up to $15M per year and the whole buyout for a more solid prospect.

Seattle is a name that is discussed as Ellsbury is from the Northwest and played college ball at Oregon St.

Philadelphia is another potential trade partner. A look at all of the LCS teams from this year shows a blend of young talent with Veterans. Philadelphia currently has $6M on the books pre-arbitration for next year, even after Arbitration, that number is not likely to be past $30M. A few thoughts 1.) Philadelphia is not a small market, they can afford a top flight roster anytime they choose 2.) I’ve seen several articles this season about the locals getting a little restless at the slow rebuild taking place in Philly and some of their prospects not progressing as fast as expected. I know Philly is waiting for the big 2018 Free Agency class, but they realistically could trade for Stanton, sign J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and not hit the luxury tax in 2018. I don’t think they will go to that extreme, but could Philly be willing to take on a larger chunk of Ellsbury’s money than others to try and bring a veteran into the fold.

Opening Day Lineup:

LF: Gardner

RF: Judge

1B: Bird

C: Sanchez

DH: Schwarber

2B: Castro

SS: Didi

CF: Hicks

3B: Andjuar






Starting Pitchers:




Fulmer / Cole










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