Last weekend's series against the Blue Jays was an important one for the Yankees, but it didn't go their way as they dropped three out of four games. Though they once held a large lead over the other teams in the AL East, the Yankees have scuffled since the trade deadline ended. When all was said and done, the only move the Yankees made was to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Mariners. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have been on fire since they added the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, going 21-6 in August compared to the Yankees' record of 14-14. With a three-and-a-half game lead over the Yankees, the Blue Jays have now taken control of the division, which begs the question of whether the Yankees should have handled the trade deadline differently. However, the Yankees' decision to stand pat still looks like a good one, despite their slip in the standings.
When the trade deadline ended on July 31st, the Yankees had a six-game lead in the division over both the Orioles and the Blue Jays. There were plenty of trade rumors flying around as July came to a close, but the Yankees never seemed to be on the cusp of trading for any big names. This is likely due to the fact that GM Brian Cashman made it clear that he wouldn't trade certain players like Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge. Not long after, Severino and Bird were both promoted and so far, both of their performances have shown that the Yankees made the right call by holding onto them.
Luis Severino has made seven starts at the big league level, and looked great in the first six. He is walking more batters than the Yankees would like (4.06 BB/9), but he's also recorded 38 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. Aside from the most recent start against the Blue Jays, he's been a positive force in the rotation. Meanwhile, Greg Bird is batting .239/.311/.446 with five home runs in 26 games. Bird is even more valuable now that Mark Teixeira is out for the rest of the season with a fractured leg. The same is true of Severino, since Nathan Eovaldi may miss the rest of the year with elbow inflammation. The Yankees have been reluctant to give playing time to young guys in the past, so it's encouraging to see both Bird and Severino making the most of their opportunities to contribute.
There's no question that the injuries to Tex and Eovaldi are a detriment to the team, and if they had somehow known that those two would go down in the last weeks of the season, the Yankees might have handled the trade deadline differently. Cashman even said that he would have looked into picking up a first baseman in August if they had known about the break then, but it's doubtful that he could have found anyone better than Bird. Even if the Yankees had traded for a top starter in July, it seems like it wouldn't have made that much difference. Right now the Yankees look like they are only going to make it in the postseason if they win one of the wild cards. Would it have been worth it to trade Bird/Severino/any of the other prospects, just to make it to the unpredictable Wild Card game? Probably not. Sure, the Blue Jays made a lot of moves, but in the long run it still looks like it was better for the Yankees to avoid trading their top prospects for a short-term rental or getting saddled with a bad contract for a veteran pitcher.