The trade deadline will be here before we know it, and it’s time to start thinking about how the Yankees might approach their talks with other teams as they look to improve the club. The trade deadline is all about improving weaknesses for contending teams, but in order to know your weaknesses, you have to first know your strengths. Here are the Yankees’ greatest strengths as they approach trade deadline season.
When the Yankees signed Aaron Hicks to a seven-year deal, they basically cemented their outfield for the long-term, barring a surprising departure for Aaron Judge at any point. Hicks, Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton make up MLB’s most potent offensive outfield group, and Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier offer more depth than any other MLB team has at the outfield positions. That doesn’t even take into account Cameron Maybin, who was arguably the Yankees most productive offensive player this month before going down with a calf injury.
If the Yankees decide to trade big league ready talent from a position of strength, it’s likely Frazier who will be on the move. The Yankees have maintained that Frazier is in their future plans, but they’ll be fighting teams off for Frazier’s services if they want a significant return. Top prospect Estevan Florial, also an outfielder, will be at the very top of other teams’ wish lists, but it will take a real difference maker for the Yankees to move the 21-year-old before they see him reach his potentially sky-high ceiling.
Even with the season-ending injury to Miguel Andujar, the Yankees’ infield is as good as any. Gio Urshela has proven he’s capable of playing third base every day, even as his offense cools off, and DJ Lemahieu has been a star all over the diamond. It’s hard to envision the Yankees taking calls for either Gleyber Torres or Didi Gregorius, and it’s highly doubtful that they’ll do much shopping in the middle infield department. Keep an eye on the market for Thairo Estrada, however. The young middle infielder impressed in 25 games earlier this season, perhaps enough for rebuilding teams to request his addition to deadline deals. At first base, the Yankees have the best depth of any team, juggling Luke Voit, Edwin Encarnacion, and occasionally LeMahieu at the position. They won’t be looking to acquire or trade any first basemen at this year’s deadline, unless they take a shot on another player like Voit, who they didn’t acquire with the expectation of receiving everyday MLB playing time.
Behind the plate, Gary Sanchez has been the comeback player of the year. He leads all MLB catchers in slugging and wRC+, and that kind of production gives you trade immunity at the catcher position. If the Yankees wouldn’t trade Sanchez after last season, they certainly won’t think about trading him now.
However, they could consider upgrading the backup catcher position. Austin Romine has been a reasonable enough backup for years, but he’s having his worst offensive season since 2013, slashing .218/.233/.307. Romine posted a 6.4% walk rate last season, the best of his career, but currently owns a 1.9% walk rate, the worst of his career by a large margin. The Yankees might not want to mess with their great team chemistry by trading or replacing a long-tenured player just to upgrade at backup backstop, but he hasn’t proven to be great insurance if Sanchez goes down at any point this season.
The Yankees’ bullpen is stacked with the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Khanle, and Chad Green. That’s a bullpen that most contending teams wish they had at their disposal and Dellin Betances hasn’t even pitched yet this season. That doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t explore the market for a lefty specialist or a replacement for a struggling Jonathan Holder, but they likely won’t sell the farm for an addition to their embarrassment of riches, especially if Betances is able to bounce back from the shoulder injuries that have plagued him all season. According to MLP Pipeline, 15 of the Yankees’ top 30 prospects are right-handed pitchers. Many of these pitchers project as future bullpen arms, which the Yankees have little need for, so they might use a handful of quality pitching prospects in trade offers to improve their current starting rotation.