Simply considering the nature of the Yankees—a constant need to fill their stadium, draw media attention, and at least lend the appearance of being in the thick of the playoff race—the chances of a prospects-for-proven-big-leaguers trade will always be present…even for a club that seems to be rebuilding. The team has recently been connected to Chicago White Sox’ (new) ace Jose Quintana, though they no longer seem to be discussing the matter. There was also much talk about the team dealing for a pitcher like Chris Sale early in the offseason.
But I’m not here to discuss whether this is a logical move for the Yankees. That comes down to how the team sees themselves—are they really an elite player away from true playoff contention?—and this subject has been a hot topic of debate for a few months now. Instead, the goal of this article is to hopefully ease the minds of Yankees’ fans who have been concerned about this offseason, and potential moves during it.
Perhaps the potential of trading a load of future stars for a current stud like Jose Quintana understandably terrifies you, or maybe you’re growing frustrated by the inaction of the Yankees, since they could be within striking distance of a playoff berth if given a complete rotation. The side you lie on doesn’t matter, though, as long as you have faith in the team’s general manager, Brian Cashman. And, luckily, you should trust him, because if there’s one thing Cashman excels in, it’s trades; specifically, those of the prospects-for-studs variety.
The Yankees are no strangers to acquiring big name players, as this kind of move has been a trademark of the team throughout its dynasty run from the mid-90s through the 2000s. Players like Chuck Knoblauch (acquired in Brian Cashman’s rookie year as the General Manager) and David Justice defined the Yankees around the turn of the century, and they were succeeded by names such as Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu years later.
All of these stars, and many others, were a product of dealing prospects, and the Yankees miraculously avoided giving up a young-player-turned-superstar that would have haunted them in the future. There were no Addison Russells for Jon Lesters or R.A. Dickeys for Noah Syndergaards, and while the Yankees did fall short on some deals, they never lost real talent.
Yes, there will always be the risk of a star busting (like Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, or, again, Javier Vazquez), and this is something the Yankees can’t fully protect themselves against. That said, the odds of the team giving up prospects who pan out, while simultaneously having their big-name return fail, are slim.
The last time the Yankees gave up a prospect in this type of trade and saw that player pan out was likely Austin Jackson, and the only notable names other than the former Tiger (who is now just 29 and unlikely to make a 25-man roster out of spring training) would be relievers like Tyler Clippard and Mark Melancon (while Jose Quintana was formerly part of the Yankees’ organization, he wasn’t lost in the sort of trade we’re currently discussing).
Other than those three names, the Yankees have somehow avoided losing stars in these trades. Instead, busts such as Peter O’Brien, Jesus Montero, and others pepper the landscape. So, while there will be inherent risk in putting all of one’s eggs in one basket, the odds of the Yankees losing multiple future superstars in a big-name-for-prospects deal is luckily slim, thanks to Brian Cashman’s skill on the trade market.
With that in mind, the Yankees can have faith that Cashman will make the right moves while staying put when the price is too high. There’s risk in dealing prospects for studs, but the Yankees have often come out on top with these deals.