Wednesday afternoon featured a frustrating sequence of events for much of Yankees Universe. Sure, the Bombers won a game, but the real attention was on Twitter, and the likes of Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal. Yankee fans hoped the game’s insiders would set the internet ablaze with news that New York had made a deal to solidify their pitching staff and secure their place as favorites to win the American League pennant.
Instead, Yankees fans waited...and waited...and waited, until finally, a bomb came from Rosenthal, though one that Yankees fans wish had never landed. It felt like a worst-case scenario, right after they learned that the Bombers hadn’t acquired any major-league talent before the 4 p.m. deadline:
Not only had the Yankees not made a move, but one of their biggest competitors for this year’s World Series title had added arguably the most coveted starting pitcher on the market, as the Astros dealt four prospects and took on a piece of Greinke’s remaining contract to give themselves a gauntlet rotation that also includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Oh, and they also added Aaron Sanchez for the bullpen, who is sure to return to his 2016 form almost immediately, because, you know, Astros.
The Yankees could take something away from this trade deadline aside from, well, nothing. Take a look at the Astros, who did put their fans through years of torture, but now are the titans of the AL West and have a World Series to their credit, yet still jump at the opportunity to make their present roster better, even if it costs some quality prospects or more money. Sure, they have their untouchable prospects like Yordan Alvarez was, or Forrest Whitley now, but they parted with two of their best pitching prospects in JB Bukauskas and Corbin Martin and a power bat in first baseman Seth Beer. The Astros realize they have to part with future assets to get better in the present day, which, at least from afar, seemed like the opposite of the Yankees’ desires as the trade deadline neared.
The Mets had curiously plucked Marcus Stroman from the trade market on Sunday, and apparently were willing to deal him to the Yankees for Deivi Garcia and Estavan Florial, which the Yankees refused. In fact, the Yankee seemed unwilling to part with Garcia at all. But why? Garcia is a highly-touted prospect, but given his build and velocity, Stroman appears to be the present version of Garcia’s desired future, so why not part with that future to get it right now? The Yankees seemed too protective of prospects that can’t help the team in 2019, when their window to win a World Series is staring them in the face.
It should be said that Grienke was almost certainly never coming to the Yankees, but the point is that Houston made its move, and the Yankees didn’t. The same could be said about Verlander in 2017, who arguably was the difference between the Astros making the World Series instead of the Yankees.
The Yankees again held tight to their beliefs when arms like Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel became available, setting their financial ceiling at a level that wasn’t enough to acquire those talented arms, and now the rotation is in shambles. They Yankees needed pitching help badly, even if it was in the form of another bullpen arm to secure the bridge to the foursome in the back end. Instead, the Yankees will hope that Luis Severino and Dellin Betances return to health by September, which is a big unknown given how their seasons have gone so far.
Some of the best trades are the ones that you never make, but sometimes a team needs to be willing to part with coveted assets to go all-in for a World Series push. The Astros did that on Wednesday and the Yankees didn’t, and suddenly, the path to the World Series has become even more difficult.
Should the two teams face off in the postseason like in 2017, the Yankees might have to look right at a team that outmaneuvered them at the deadline. Or they could beat the Astros and win the World Series. Who knows? The MLB postseason is a minefield, but you still want to enter it with the best pieces available, and the Yankees weren’t willing to part with bits of their future to prepare for the present. The Astros were, and maybe it’s time the Yanks start replicating that aggressive approach, before their window closes.