Major League Baseball teams have until the end of this month to decide whether they will be buyers or sellers at this season's trade deadline. The addition of a second wild card spot allows more teams to remain in the race for the postseason, making more teams less likely to sell off their players at the deadline in return for prospects and/or salary relief. Remaining in the hunt for playoff baseball longer means that fewer players will be moved this July, which increases the demand for players that are being shopped around. That is important for teams that find themselves on the buyer side, because it means that they could have to part with higher value commodities to obtain a player they need.
The Yankees, currently sitting on top of the AL East, will almost certainly find themselves buyers at this season's deadline. The division is eminently winnable with all the teams fairly bunched together with half a season yet to play. New York has managed to hang around at or near the top for the majority of the season to this point, thanks to a resurgent offense and strong late inning relief. The one place where the team has run into trouble is with their starting pitching rotation. Michael Pineda has been very good, Masahiro Tanaka has been injured and a bit inconsistent, Nathan Eovaldi has struggled at times, and CC Sabathia has turned pretty much every right-handed batter into Albert Pujols when they step into the batter's box against him.
Pineda and Tanaka give the team a very formidable 1-2 punch when they are on and healthy, but the latter has been a concern for the duo to this point. The Yankees have one of their top prospects in Luis Severino sitting at Triple-A where he is currently dominating if they want to look for internal pitching help, but it's possible that they look to the trade deadline to help find some relief. Names like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have been thrown around as potential targets for the Yankees, but neither will be coming cheaply. It will be interesting to see how the front office values their prospects when it comes to the potential to bring in a rental that would fortify the rotation.
Another place the Yankees could look to the trade market for help is second base. Stephen Drew can't get his batting average over the Mendoza line and has been a black hole offensively since last season with little sign of improvement. He'll hit the occasional home run, for sure, but that's about it these days. Rob Refsnyder is a popular choice to replace Drew, if the team wanted an internal option, but concerns about the prospect's defense have remained the excuse for leaving him in the minor leagues. The Yankees could choose to look outside the organization for a player without those same defensive concerns who could be an upgrade over Drew with the bat like Ben Zobrist, for example. Whether or not the team would be willing to part with one of their top prospects in order to land Zobrist is a different matter entirely.
The Yankees probably aren't looking to upgrade anywhere else on their team, and already have the pieces to potentially upgrade internally without having to trade away prospects if that's the route they choose to take. It is pretty clear that the team will be looking to solidify the weak spots of their roster in order to make a run at getting back to the playoffs after a two-year absence. Brian Cashman has worked some real magic at the trade deadline recently, landing Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy for spare parts around this time last year. If he can do that again and get a similar payoff, the Yankees should find themselves playing baseball in October once again.