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What the Yankees need as the trade deadline approaches

The Yankees have rolled along to a 49-28 record, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite doing their best Avengers: Infinity War impression, the injury-battled Yankees have thrived over the first half of the season. Sporting a record of 49-28 over the first 77 games, a top-five offense and pitching staff has positioned the Yankees atop the American League East, 5.5 games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays and eight games in front of the Boston Red Sox. The Bombers also sit only one game behind the surprise Minnesota Twins for the best record in the American League.

With so many strong teams at the top of the AL, however, nothing short of perfect should be satisfactory for the 2019 Yankees. Even with a plethora of recent reinforcements—cue “Portals”—they still have plenty of room for improvement.

Most importantly, the Yankees need more depth in the starting pitching department. At the moment, the rotation consists of Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia, and...that’s it. The opener/follower tandem of Chad Green and Nestor Cortes Jr. has filled in admirably in the fifth spot, but another injury would force the team to either use Chance Adams as a starter, which they seem reluctant to do, or deploy a second bullpen day.

While Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jordan Montgomery all look to come off the injured list at some point, they are all far from sure things. That’s either due to inexperience (German), a career whose highs and lows have been equally strong (Severino), or the uncertainties of Tommy John rehab (Montgomery). Right now, the Yankees’ rotation is paper-thin, and cannot withstand any more injuries; Brian Cashman must make reinforcing it a priority at the deadline.

While largely considered a strength, the bullpen could also use some help over the next couple of months. Ace relievers Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Tommy Kahnle have all been dominant, combining for 33 runs in 124 innings, striking out 155 batters in that time. Behind them, however, the depth gets thin quickly.

Green has bounced back after a rough start, but his opener duties have relegated him to only sporadic availability in the later innings. Jonathan Holder, Luis Cessa, David Hale, and Stephen Tarpley have filled out the rest of the bullpen at various points over the season, to middling results. Since Dellin Betances’ return remains very much in question, it does not seem like reinforcements can be expected from within any time soon. Giving Cessa, Holder, or Hale high-leverage innings in a tight pennant race is dangerous at best.

As a general rule, the Yankees have a crowded outfield, with the 40-man roster containing Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin, Clint Frazier, and Mike Tauchman. Additionally, Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade have both played some games in the corner outfield spots. Of those seven outfielders, however, only three or four can truly play center field. Although not exactly a weakness, Cashman might be served to keep tabs on center field depth players, just in case.

Ninja Cash has already struck once in what has been a fairly active trade market, considering that we are more than a month away from the deadline. For this reason, it is time to start paying attention to which players the Yankees may be looking at that fill these roles, as the time to strike may be sooner rather than later.