As the Yankees prepare their 2018-2019 offseason wish list, it’s useful to remember that in sports and business, you have to give to get. The Bombers will almost certainly be involved in some sort of trade this offseason, and there are a couple of players on the roster who seem to pop up in all the rumors. Who can we expect to suit up elsewhere on Opening Day 2019?
This first one is pretty obvious. Brian Cashman is on the record saying that the team is trying to move the one-time All-Star. It doesn’t get more clear than this: “I think to maximize his abilities, it would be more likely best somewhere else.”
Of course, the Yankees need to find a suitor for Gray. While the right-hander is just one year removed from being a solid pitcher and he’s still arbitration-eligible, the fact remains that two of his last three years have been clunkers. His tenure in New York has been a total failure, too. The Yankees won’t get much in return for Gray, but teams like the Twins, Angels, Phillies, Cardinals or Diamondbacks could all use a starter.
Greg Bird may be running out of chances in New York. He hasn’t produced since his rookie year in 2015, and he has battled many injuries since then. There may still be some potential there, but the Yankees don’t have the time to sit around and wait to find out. Luke Voit has taken over first base for the immediate future, which leaves Bird between a rock and a hard place.
A team that isn’t in the middle of a heated division race and has the ability to develop its players on the fly could take a chance on Bird. Really, every team could use first base depth, and he has some attractive attributes in his plate discipline and raw power. Bird will probably never be what the Yankees thought he could be, but maybe all he needs is a change of scenery.
The Yankees’ third-most expensive player is coming off of a lost season and is pretty much a sunk cost at this point. I think Ellsbury can actually help the Yankees next year, but the team still wouldn’t hesitate to rid itself of his albatross contract if the opportunity presented itself. The Bombers, however, are somewhat short on outfield depth and I don’t think they would get much of anything in return for Ellsbury. They’re almost better off keeping him on the team and taking any marginal production they can get.
Outfield-needy teams like Colorado, Miami, San Francisco or Seattle could have interest in Ellsbury, but the Yankees would have to eat a lot of money to make it happen. They might as well see what they have in him first while they are figuring out the future of their outfield.
There was a time not that long ago when “Red Thunder” was the Yankees’ top prospect and floated in every big trade rumor. Now, Frazier’s trade value is almost completely shot. He is no longer a prospect, yet no one knows what to expect from Frazier next year after he missed almost the entire 2018 campaign with a concussion. Frazier’s 2019 season could either end with him as the team’s left fielder of the future, just another minor league depth piece, or anywhere in between.
Frazier’s trade status is almost like Ellsbury’s. They are players who would have more value if they had a reliable 2018. The Yankees will probably open their 2019 season with both in the organization, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Most of the trades in the offseason are of the 40-man roster shuffling variety, and the Yankees will surely try to reconfigure their depth pieces. Minor league arms like Domingo German or Chance Adams or MLB relievers without options like Tommy Kahnle, Luis Cessa or A.J. Cole are players who could be packaged in a deal or swapped for guys with minor league options. These trades won’t be big news when they happen, but they could help the Yankees find the next diamond in the rough.
In the offseason, there are always a few unrealistic rumors for every true one. Some players who could see their names pop up in online rumors include Justus Sheffield, Miguel Andujar, or Gary Sanchez. The Yankees would have to be blown away to deal any of these players. Sheffield is the club’s top prospect, Andujar is arguably the team’s best hitter, and Sanchez can be a franchise cornerstone when he’s right. There’s something to be said for selling high, but not with these guys. These names may appear on Twitter rumors at some point in this offseason, but I wouldn’t put any weight to it.