If George Steinbrenner were alive, how would he respond to the recent trades from the Blue Jays and the Royals? That, of course, is a trick question, as the Boss would have personally signed off on a trade for Troy Tulowitzki in December. But the fact still remains that the Yankees have been oddly quiet this July. Anything can happen over the next 72 hours, but unless the Yankees are willing to deviate from their stated plan, they won't be making any substantial deals.
The lack of activity from Brian Cashman and Co. isn't from a lack of effort. They have done their due diligence on Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, and many others. In the case of Hamels, the Phillies wanted the Yankees to include either Aaron Judge or Luis Severino, two prospects the Yankees are not willing to part with. According to Jon Heyman, Judge and Severino are two of four prospects that are known to be untouchable:
yanks decline request of severino or judge for hamels; texas and dodgersremain more likely there. http://t.co/vfJ90fQ3Bj— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2015
yanks have 4 untouchables on prospect list: severino, judge, bird, mateo— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2015
Jason recently discussed the Yankees choice to guard Jorge Mateo. The one thing I would add is that it really doesn't make sense to trade a prospect who is only doing pretty well at Single-A, especially given Mateo's age. If he continues to improve, he could be a blue-chip prospect in Double-A Trenton by this time next year. If he has season ending surgery tomorrow, he will return to Charleston in 2016, still below the average age for a Single-A prospect.
But unlike Mateo, the other three untouchable prospects are in Triple-A, knocking on the door of the big league club. Objectively speaking, there isn't a prospect in the Yankees farm system who is in the Kris Bryant/Carlos Correa/Lucas Giolito stratosphere though. Aaron Judge will always turn heads because of his freakish athleticism, but even he isn't the type of player who will be kept in the minors to manipulate the service time clock.
Many fans will look at the failed Hamels deal and think the Yankees aren't willing to trade the future away for 2015, but the Yankees might be looking to keep Judge, Severino, and Bird because they are part of the plan in 2015. With the Yankees' success so far, it is important to remember that a lot of things have gone right this season. Apart from minor injuries to Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Andrew Miller, the Yankees have a virtually spotless bill of health this year. Whether they know it or not, Judge, Severino and Bird are now a part of the Yankees' depth chart.
Keeping the untouchable Triple-A trio gives the Yankees a backup plan if their key players get hurt. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and every starting pitcher have a history of spending time on the DL. If Garrett Jones and Mark Teixeira get hurt, Bird would be next in the first base pecking order. While Judge, Severino, and Bird have a lot to learn, their high ceilings give them a fighting chance to catch lightning in a bottle over a small sample size. So while the Yankees definitely don't want to sacrifice the future for 2015, the future could become the present at any time.