The recent acquisition of outfielder Aaron Hicks was the most recent in a series of similar transactions made by Brian Cashman, as noted by Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees blog. Hicks, a former first round pick, has yet to live up to his perceived potential, although the tools are obviously there. Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Dustin Ackley are all examples of players targeted by Cashman who have flashed high ceilings but were still a few adjustments away.
Moves like these make a lot of sense, as all of these players are in their mid-20's and are already in the big leagues. If the Yankees were to stockpile lower-level prospects out of high school, they would have to operate knowing fully well that at least half of them would flame out before even reaching the show. With this in mind, here are a few other players the Yankees could pursue who fit the Brian Cashman mold.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers
For the last two years, Nick Castellanos has been in the negatives in the WAR column and have left the Tigers' front office scratching their heads. His defense was known to be shaky as he rocketed up Detroit's farm system, but the assumption was always that his bat would carry him in the big leagues. However, his wRC+ has been stuck at 94 over the past two seasons, due largely to his horrendous plate discipline. When he is not going fishing for pitches in the dirt, Castellanos has demonstrated the ability to hit a lot of line drives and a handful of home runs.
Castellanos will be 24 years old next year. The Tigers, who are somewhat on the border of rebuilding and trying to win, might be willing to part with their third baseman if it means helping their 2016 roster. Of course, the hot corner is already occupied in the Bronx, but the Yankees could try to flip the aging Chase Headley for a pitching prospect. Seeing how Brian Cashman has said everything is on the table this offseason, anything is possible.
Blake Treinen, RP, Washington Nationals
The Nationals have more than their fair share of exciting young pitchers, so it is easy for older prospects to get lost in the commotion. A 27-year-old flamethrowing reliever, Treinen is a good old-fashioned case of excellent stuff with poor command. He generates a lot of groundballs with a sinker that can touch 100 mph and a slider in the high 80's with ridiculous movement, but often will fail to find the strike zone. In 60 appearances last season, he walked over four batters per nine innings, pitching to a 3.86 ERA.
If Treinen can get his command under control, he could be the second coming of Justin Wilson, another high-velocity reliever who has done well in pinstripes. The Nationals could be willing to part with Treinen with the recent peace treaty between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, in addition to the return of former closer Drew Storen.
Chad Bettis, SP, Colorado Rockies
Nothing the Colorado Rockies did seemed to get any attention in 2015, except for the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. Lost in the depths of the NL West was the performance of Chad Bettis, the 26-year-old out of Texas Tech University. Like several Rockies pitchers before him, the further he got from Bigfoot's territory, the better he got. In 2015, Bettis had a 3.35 ERA when pitching in away games, compared to a 4.99 ERA at home.
The exciting thing about Bettis is the fact that he has flashed three plus secondary pitches. Over a small sample size, his curveball and changeup had Whiff/Swing ratios north of 30%, in addition to a slider with a rate of 41%, according to Brooks Baseball. If the Yankees, or any other team can pry Bettis away from Colorado, he could reach new heights. But the Rockies, unlike the Tigers and Nationals, are likely in the midst of a full rebuild, so they would probably want a different kind of prospect haul.
By trading for improving players who recently broke into the big leagues, Brian Cashman has found a way to improve the Yankees without blowing up the farm system. Are there any other players you would like to see in pinstripes? Feel free to let us know below.