Earlier this week, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman addressed the press gathered at Yankee Stadium. Naturally, the topic of the looming non-waiver trade deadline came up. Cashman responded with his signature bluntness. “I’ve had GMs tell me, if you give me what I want, I’ll do the deal right now,” he explained to reporters. “But what they want, I don’t want to give them.”
That’s Cashman’s modus operandi. He has a track record of getting what he wants without dealing from the team’s top prospects. Think back to last year’s Sonny Gray trade. The Yankees landed a controllable starting pitcher for decent, but not great, players. Fans malign the move now, but let’s be real. Dustin Fowler had no future in the Bronx, nor did Jorge Mateo. As for James Kaprielian? He’s damaged goods. Maybe they pan out, but it’s hard to not see them as spare parts in a stacked Yankees’ system.
While this method has worked well in the past, there’s urgency now. The Yankees have a middling rotation, one that’s short two arms at the moment. Masahiro Tanaka figures to return soon, but his 4.58 ERA (4.91 FIP) fails to engender much confidence. At the same time, they’re locked in a hotly contested division battle with the Red Sox. They cannot afford to let Boston create separation in the standings.
The Yankees need upgrades, and soon. News emerged yesterday indicating that the Bombers are seen as “main players” for J.A. Happ, and that’s fine. Happ is a good start. If that’s their endgame, however, it will feel disappointing. That’s especially the case when names like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard keep surfacing in trade rumors. Acquiring either one of those pitchers would send shockwaves across the entire American League.
Obviously there exists one small, inconvenient hurdle: Both deGrom and Syndergaard pitch for the Mets. Trades between the New York clubs are rare, and blockbusters unheard of. That shouldn’t stop Cashman from trying, though. He should move all of his chips into the middle of the table and offer the Mets a package they cannot turn down.
Everybody not named Gleyber Torres would be fair game. That includes top prospects Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and Estevan Florial. I’m not opposed to dealing off the big league roster, either. Miguel Andujar? That would hurt, but the Yankees have a ready-made replacement in Brandon Drury. The system contains the pieces necessary to get a deal done, and Cashman shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Some fans are afraid to deplete the farm system, which is understandable. The Yankees, however, are uniquely positioned to absorb such a blow. It’s not 2012. The club consists of a young, controllable, and elite core, one poised for many playoff runs yet to come. They don’t need prospects knocking on the door because they already have young stars at nearly every position.
Prospects serve two purposes. First, they make up teams, and the Bombers have that part down pat. They also exist as trade chips. Many of the players in the system now best serve the Yankees that way.
Don’t forget that prospects are a renewable resource. There will be more. In fact, by the time this core approaches free agency, the Yankees will probably have another group of young stars waiting in the wings. The organization’s player development system just does that on the regular now. They’ve earned my trust with their unparalleled success over the last few years.
Now’s the time to go for broke. Try to blow the Mets away with offers on deGrom and Syndergaard. Other pitchers are fine, but the Yankees can truly back up the prospects Brink’s truck for an ace to compliment Luis Severino. If not now, then when?