The Yankees made their share of notable trades during the off-season, eschewing traditional free agency to acquire Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Hicks. Some pretty good players left New York in these deals, but none of these trades remotely resembled the impact of one hypothetical discussed between the Yankees and Braves last off-season.
After a disappointing 2014 campaign which saw the Yankees miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 22 years, Brian Cashman had some serious work to do to get the team ready for 2015. The Yankees had open spots at shortstop and third base due to Derek Jeter's retirement and Chase Headley's potential departure via free agency. Carlos Beltran was a letdown in right field in the first season of a three-year deal, and David Robertson's upcoming free agency left a void in the bullpen as well.
In mid-November 2014 though, Cashman could have solved all these problems in one fell swoop thanks to the Braves. However, it would have required a hefty cost:
Heyward/simmons/carpenter/bj upton/c Johnson for severino/judge/banuelos/clarkin/sanchez said floated. Nyy didnt pull trigger— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 8, 2016
Now that is a blockbuster deal, one baseball hasn't seen since the great Marlins unloading of 2012. Here's what the Yankees would have looked like with that infusion of talent combined with who was there at the end of 2014:
That's a lot of former Braves on one team, which is amusing given Atlanta's fascination with Yankee farmhands. Now the timing of all this is a little fuzzy. Heyward was dealt to the Cardinals on November 17th, which was after the Yankees dealt Cervelli and re-signed Chris Young (though Martin Prado was still in tow), but it's hard to imagine they would have discussed taking on Melvin Upton's ugly contract with Young already signed.
Nonetheless, that prospect cost was more than enough for the Yankees to turn the Braves down. It would have been painful losing both Luis Severino and Aaron Judge in one trade, particularly since Heyward, the best player involved, was only under contract one year. An agreement for an extension would have needed to be worked out for it to make any sense. Acquiring Johnson and Simmons would have meant the Yankees did not have to re-sign Headley or do the three-player trade for Didi Gregorius. Thus, they might still have had Shane Greene, though it's easy to see them moving him in the right deal anyway (same goes for Prado and Cervelli).
The fact that Gary Sanchez rebounded so strongly in 2015 from where he was after the 2014 campaign just makes this trade even crazier to review in hindsight. The big contracts for Upton and Chris Johnson both going to New York here don't seem to make sense, either. Upton had three years and $48.15 million left on his deal, and Johnson had three years and $23.5 million to go, not to mention the fact that both had been colossal disappointments after signing their contracts. Hell, Simmons was a risk too despite his defensive prowess since his 2014 was awful at the plate and he had six years and $56 million left on his extension.
This trade did not end up happening, but one does not have to look hard to see the seeds sewn for another trade that happened later in the off-season. Manny Banuelos and David Carpenter changed hands in the hypothetical deal, and in the first trade of 2015, that is exactly what happened anyway. The Yankees sent Banuelos to Atlanta in exchange for Carpenter and lefty Chasen Shreve. They probably would have indeed signed Andrew Miller anyway, and rightfully so since Carpenter ended up flaming out by Memorial Day.
On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you that this deal did not go down? It might have helped the Yankees somewhat in 2015, but boy, that cost is gross.