There exists a contingent of Yankees fans, completely rational in their beliefs, that think the Yankees gave up too much prospect weight at the trade deadline. I contest this on a number of levels. I say that Sonny Gray is an ace and that the bullpen has improved significantly. Plus, they didn’t have to give up blue chips.
The counter, of course, is that young players are the lifeblood of this current group. Accordingly, it should continue to be in the future. Giving up young players, even if they’re not blue chips, would still leverage their future in a non-trivial way.
That’s why this FanGraphs’ summer top 100 prospect list may only increase the liveliness of this debate. If one were to include the traded prospects on this list, here is what their representatives in the top 100 look like:
- #6 - Gleyber Torres
- #40 - Clint Frazier
- #64 - Chance Adams
- #77 - Estevan Florial
- #86 - James Kaprielian (Athletics)
- #94 - Dustin Fowler (Athletics)
- #99 - Blake Rutherford (White Sox)
At first glance, it seems like Brian Cashman and the Yankees played this right, especially because I wholeheartedly trust Eric Longenhagen’s prospect judgment. The Yankees gave up two top 100 prospects — although on the bottom of that list — to get a young, controllable ace.
They also avoided coughing up Estevan Florial, who has some serious helium. Longenhagen himself describes Florial as having “explosive, unpolished physical tools.” That’s a win in my book. Rutherford’s ranking hasn’t really changed since draft day; it’s about where he should be for such a young prospect. Considering the assets acquired, though, this is chump change.
On the actual Yankees prospects, nothing is too surprising. Torres is the obvious blue chip. Plus, Frazier is only marginally a prospect because of his promotion. Meanwhile, both Adams and Florial get the credit they absolutely deserve.
That said, does the prospect-hugging contingent have a point? Adams will likely graduate next year, as well as Torres. That leaves Florial as the only top 100 prospect in the system. This doesn’t mean they’ll be fully depleted, of course. Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Nick Solak, and Dillon Tate all contain that potential. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two find their way on to a list next spring.
That doesn’t erase the issue of an eroding system. The Cubs, even in their grandeur have largely spent up their farm system. That’s just one of many examples; rebuilding necessarily involves building up the farm system and then a greater focus on the major league club.
I think the Yankees will be fine. It’s not like they don’t have a ton of young players on their major league roster, and they’re not getting old any time soon. Though, these talent pools even at the big league level can dry up quicker than you think. It would be the absolute worst to be caught flat-footed on the farm.
I’m not saying this will happen, but it will be fascinating to watch Cashman try to navigate a world where the team is younger, but where they also maintain a steady pipeline of that youth in the future. Even with the trades they made and a top 100 list that doesn’t make your jaw drop, I’d say their future is still pretty bright.