It’s tough to be upset with the way the Yankees approached the non-waiver trade deadline. Brian Cashman identified the team’s weak spots and worked valiantly to shore them up. The bullpen faltered? Cashman brought in Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. The rotation buckled? He landed Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia. First base proved a black hole? The Yankees general manager stole Todd Frazier from right underneath the Red Sox.
While it remains too early to determine the outcomes of these trades, most of the acquired players got off to strong starts for the Yankees. The bullpen arms immediately stepped into high leverage work, while the starters did their part. The only shortcoming has been Frazier, whose struggles speak to a larger point. The Yankees have a lineup that is struggling to produce runs.
Since the All-Star break, the Bombers have combined to hit a paltry .245/.308/.402 batting line. That’s worth a weak 86 wRC+. Prolonged slumps from the likes of Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday, and Gary Sanchez hampered the team’s offensive production. When paired with the general ineffectiveness of Jacoby Ellsbury, Tyler Wade, and Frazier, you have a lineup in crisis.
What can the Yankees do to remedy this? One option includes looking outside the organization for help. August trades are a little more complicated, but they’re doable. There certainly exist options for the Yankees. For example, Jay Bruce reportedly cleared waivers yesterday. Others such as Yonder Alonso and Matt Adams could also help. We know that Cashman is open to trading for another bat because he tried to land Lucas Duda from the Mets. That interest could remain.
Should the trade market prove unrealistic, the Bombers have a few intriguing options in the system. Namely, Miguel Andujar, who received a brief promotion earlier in the summer. He’s tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A Scranton/Wiles-Barre and could jumpstart the lineup. He also has the advantage of already being on the 40-man roster. The red hot Billy McKinney could also be an option, but proves a little more difficult to add to the roster.
A third, and less exciting option would be for the Yankees to wait out the returns of their injured players. Aaron Hicks is knocking on the door, and Tyler Austin isn’t too far behind. Starlin Castro and Greg Bird could also be in the mix later in the month. Hicks and Castro would be notable upgrades if they returned to their first-half form.
Of all these scenarios, the Yankees might have to settle for their returning players. This is largely in part due to the construction of the roster. There exists too much dead weight to bring in an entirely new bat. It’s unlikely that the team cuts bait with Holliday or Frazier, and Ellsbury isn’t going anywhere. Add in the cavalry of returning players, and you find a team in a holding pattern. It’s a long-running trope to note a player returning from injury is like a new acquisition. In this case, though, it might be the Bombers’ only hope.
With the race for the division on, there isn’t much room for error. The Yankees can’t keep running an anemic lineup out every day. Unfortunately, the options available don’t play into the way the roster is constructed. It looks like the team will try to wait this out. As much as I would like to see the club add a bat à la Eric Hinske in 2009, I wouldn’t count on it. For now, we wait and hope the offense comes around before the Red Sox open too large of a lead.