It’s hard to complain about the 2018 Yankees. After going 9-9 to start the season, the Bombers kicked it into another gear, playing to a 49-20 record since. They’re on pace for 103 wins! This is one of the best teams the Yankees have ever fielded, and it seems like they don’t get nearly enough credit.
That said, the club is far from a finished product. There exist a few glaring weaknesses, ones that should get addressed at this summer’s trade deadline. It sounds like that’s the plan, too. “I would have to see where we are, who the person is, how badly that position needs help, so to speak, but I will say, we have a considerable amount of money to spend and I’m not adverse to spending it,” Hal Steinbrenner told Brendan Kuty last week.
The Yankees have the money, and resources, to make impact trades this summer. But where should they spend it? I came up with three areas, and ranked them from most important to least.
This one’s a given. The Yankees desperately need to fill out their starting rotation. Right now the staff owns a middling 3.95 ERA (3.82 FIP). Outside of Luis Severino and CC Sabathia, the rotation consists of a bunch of “meh” options. One can make the case that Sonny Gray is the worst pitcher in baseball. Domingo German is, at best, inconsistent. Then there’s Masahiro Tanaka, who battled injury and ineffectiveness in the first half. Tanaka will make his return on Tuesday, and that could be a boost, but the team needs him to pitch better.
For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman understands the importance of bolstering the rotation. “That’s always been a focus of ours,” the Yankees General Manager explained to the New York Post last month. The club has been connected to a variety of pitchers in recent weeks. They’re linked to top-end starters like Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell, as well as innings eaters such as Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ.
There’s a lot of smoke, leading one to believe a deal for another rotation piece could get done. Landing a starter, or maybe two, should be the top focus of Cashman and his lieutenants in the coming weeks.
This isn’t a popular opinion around these parts, but the Yankees need help at first base. I love Greg Bird. I think he’s still the first baseman of the future. Right now, though, he’s not cutting it. The 25-year-old is hitting .202/.321/.404 with five home runs across 134 plate appearances. He’s heated up of late, but that lack of production leaves a lot to be desired.
There exist conflicting reports over whether the Yankees are pursuing a first baseman at the deadline. Mike Moustakas stands out as the most discussed candidate. The funny thing is that he’s a third baseman by trade. Other first base options include Jose Abreu and Justin Bour. Cashman should inquire on the availability of any of these sluggers when he’s finished work on landing a starter.
When all else fails, add to the bullpen. That’s been the Yankees’ modus operandi over the last few years. Give them credit, too. The front office assembled arguably the most dominant relief corps in history through this method. There only exists one spot to upgrade in the bullpen, though, and that’s Chasen Shreve’s role.
Shreve, 27, has been awful this season, pitching to a 4.99 ERA (5.63 FIP) over 34 innings. In fact, he hasn’t been good in about three years. One would think he’s working on borrowed time, but is the solution replacing him via the trade market? I’m not sure that’s the case, especially with Tommy Kahnle pitching in Triple-A. Sure, the Yankees could want another left-hander, but it’s not like any of their elite arms have noticeable platoon splits. They can get anyone out. Adding to the bullpen should be a luxury move, not a top priority.
What do you think? How would you rank the Yankees’ needs ahead of the deadline? Let us know in the comment section!