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Yankees lose their best trade chip in Estevan Florial

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Estevan Florial could have helped improve the Yankees rotation, but now he’s hurt and possibly untradable.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have lost 20-year-old outfield prospect Estevan Florial for most of the season, and with him may have gone the team’s best trade chip. Florial suffered a hand injury that will require hamate bone surgery. It isn’t likely to hurt his long-term value, but it could take him out of play as the team’s best chance to improve the big league rotation.

It’s no secret that the Yankees will need pitching at the trade deadline, but after several promotions and recent trades, the organization has no trade chip more valuable than Florial. Brian Cashman would be nuts to trade Gleyber Torres at this stage, and Miguel Andujar is still something of an unknown quantity. Guys like Domingo Acevedo and Justus Sheffield certainly have their value, but none will be as attractive as Florial.

Believed to be something of an uber prospect for a few years now, Florial has held some enticing trade value, despite his age. The Yankees have received a number of offers on him over the years, but always preferred to hold onto him. That all changed in the offseason when Cashman managed to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Considering the combination of Stanton and Aaron Judge, plus Clint Frazier waiting in the wings, it’s certainly possible that the organization saw Florial as tradable, if not expendable.

The injury to Florial, and his loss of development time, could cause other teams to balk at trade talks. Hamate surgery doesn’t typically have long-term effects, but you never know. The Yankees did manage to trade an injured Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian for Sonny Gray, but teams may have learned from that deal. Kaprielian still hasn’t seen the mound in two years. When dealing with prospects, teams like to be careful, so it could mean the Yankees will be forced to give up additional pieces, otherwise stand still at the deadline like they did in the offseason.

The Yankees still have a lot of valuable pieces in the minors, but the expendable pieces — the guys like Blake Rutherford and Nick Solak — have already been dealt. Unless Cashman can get a team to take someone like the struggling Chance Adams for a legitimate big league arm, the Yankees might be forced to deal a player like Clint Frazier. He’s ready for a big league role, has the pedigree, and may not have a clear path to the majors (even though he should). It would make perfect sense to deal him now, when the team needs him least, and then hope Florial becomes the player he is expected to be.

It may not matter at all in the end. Perhaps Cashman manages to find the deal of a lifetime, or maybe someone is fine taking an injured Florial. For all we know, this injury may be a blessing in disguise. He’s kept out of trades, returns next year, and later proves to be a star. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s just a bit frustrating to have to head into the summer months with an inconsistent starting rotation and no clear way to improve it.