The trade market is expected to be buzzing with activity this winter, as numerous teams look to slash payroll following the abbreviated and fanless 2020 season. With big stars such as Francisco Lindor and Kris Bryant expected to be on the move, and multiple starting pitchers such as Lance Lynn available at the right price, the Yankees may be major players — and possibly one of only a few buyers — this winter.
Before we can begin to look at who Brian Cashman may be targeting this winter, we first must take stock of what he has to deal. Today, we’re going to take a look at who the Yankees may see as tradeable from the 40-man roster; on Saturday afternoon, Dan Kelly will discuss how the team may use its farm system this winter.
It seems as if Estevan Florial has been a possible trade piece for years now, having been at or near the top of Yankees’ prospect lists since signing out of Haiti in 2014. Peaking at #26 on the Baseball Prospectus overall list in 2018, Florial’s minor league career has been dominated by injuries in recent years, breaking the hamate bone in his right hand in 2018 and his right wrist in 2019.
While the shine has certainly rubbed off, teams might still value Florial as a potential trade target. At only 22 years old, he still has time to hone the abilities that got scouts excited about him, and aside from a cameo with the big league club this past year, he has not played above High-A Tampa. All of this combines to make him a potentially-intriguing trade piece for a team, particularly one lacking outfielders capable of manning center field in its system.
Make no mistake, Estrada, who turns 25 in February, will not be the centerpiece of any impact trade. As a secondary piece, however, teams could do worse than Thairo Estrada, who has in limited reps demonstrated an ability to at least fill in at all three infield positions and, in a pinch, even as a corner outfielder. Although you won’t see a rebuilding team looking to bring him in as a potential building block, a contender looking to retool while cutting salary may find him an intriguing backup infielder.
Deivi García/Clarke Schmidt
It may seem counterintuitive to trade a young starting pitcher such as Deivi García or Clarke Schmidt when the current pitching rotation includes Gerrit Cole and an army of question marks. And yet, they did just that a few years ago.
Following the 2014 season, the Yankees had under contract Masahiro Tanaka (whose UCL tear was still an uncertainty), CC Sabathia (whose knee problems limited him to only 8 starts in 2014), Michael Pineda (who pitched only 76 innings after missing two seasons), Shane Greene, and David Phelps. That winter, however, the Yankees sent Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers in the three-way deal that brought Didi Gregorius to the Bronx and packaged David Phelps with Martin Prado to acquire Nathan Eovaldi and Domingo Germán.
Despite each of those pitchers primarily serving as starters in 2014, the team recognized that both profiled long-term as relievers, and used them at the height of their value to plug holes. Don’t be surprised if something similar happens this winter with either García or Schmidt.
By the end of the season, Adam Ottavino had fallen out of Aaron Boone’s circle of trust, and $9M is a lot to pay for a reliever to perform mop-up duty. He is, however, only one year removed from a season with a 1.90 ERA (albeit with a 3.44 FIP), and he had only two seasons with an ERA above 3.00 from 2013 to 2019.
That said, this is a terrible market for relief pitchers — after all, Brad Hand cleared waivers despite his $10M option for 2021 being a steal in normal circumstances. In order for the Yankees to get anything of value out of Ottavino, chances are they will have to eat some of the salary in order to do so.
Once upon a time, Miguel Andújar appeared to be the Yankees’ third baseman of the future. One torn labrum and a breakout season by Gio Urshela later, and suddenly Andújar finds himself positionless on a team that already has an entrenched primary designated hitter, Giancarlo Stanton.
It’s hard to get a read on how exactly other teams may value Andújar; any team that needs a designated hitter certainly would be at least somewhat interested, especially if it is implemented in the National League (although that is no guarantee for 2021). A team may also be willing to roll the dice on him as a left fielder in the hope that he is the next Ryan Braun, and not the next Hanley Ramirez.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once looked at as one of the new members of the Yankees’ core, Gary Sánchez allegedly found himself on the market this past deadline, and may again this winter.
Whether he ends up dealt, however, remains a different story. At his best, Sánchez provides something that few other catchers in the league can provide — elite offensive performance. When his bat is cold, however, as it was this past season, he provides negative value both at and behind the plate, which ultimately led to his benching during the ALDS. For obvious reasons, Brian Cashman would prefer to receive value closer to the catcher’s ceiling in a trade, while other teams would rather view him as a buy-low candidate.
Chances are, Sánchez would probably serve as the centerpiece of a either a deal for a starting pitcher or a swap of high-risk players. In either case, should a deal come to fruition, expect it to be the team’s blockbuster move of the offseason.