Even though the Yankees left the Winter Meetings empty-handed, it doesn't mean that Brian Cashman wasn't involved in talks with other teams who ended up moving some of their pieces around. The Yankees don't have a lot of trade pieces to begin with, but they don't seem to be very interested in moving any of their top prospects this offseason. If that's the case it's going to be hard for them to make an upgrade, but that doesn't mean they've been sitting around and not at least trying to make something happen.
During the course of the last few days, Dee Gordon, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley were all traded at the Winter Meetings, and while they all ended up going elsewhere, it appears that Cashman at least looked in on what it might take to land them. Just like Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies, the Yankees were unable to come to an agreement on proper returns, so any potential deal fell through.
In the end, Gordon ended up on the Marlins for a package centered around 23-year-old left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney. While the other pieces weren't much to speak of, the Yankees had no way to match a return of Heaney without surrendering Luis Severino. Other than him, the organization doesn't really have anything close to major league-ready starting pitching.
When the Red Sox got Rick Porcello, the key piece they gave up was Yoenis Cespedes, something the Yankees just don't have. With Brett Gardner under control for several more years and Carlos Beltran completely valueless, New York lacked the one-year power piece the Tigers wanted for one year of Porcello. Detroit was not looking for prospects, so the Yankees really had nothing to offer, not that they would have been interested in any of their non-Aaron Judge outfield prospects anyway.
Perhaps the Yankees could have met the deal that Boston made with the Diamondbacks for Wade Miley. A high-potential, yet underwhelming reliever in Rubby De La Rosa, a former top prospect, yet disappointing major leaguer in Allen Webster, and an additional prospect isn't that big of a return for a major league piece under team control for another three seasons. At least not in the sense that the Yankees couldn't meet that deal with the likes of Bryan Mitchell and any number of their relief prospects. The thing is, though, that Miley isn't that good of a pitcher and even less of a sure thing in the AL East. It would seem that missing out on him wasn't that big of a lose.
Before the Winter Meetings, Cashman even checked in with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija, however, despite his underwhelming performance so far, the Yankees just really didn't have a piece that could match Marcus Semien. Maybe they could have used Rob Refsnyder, but then New York would have an even bigger problem with the infield for just one year of Samardzija.
Don't panic yet. The Yankees are looking into everything they can possibly do to improve the team, however, the game might have passed them by yet again. We now live in a baseball world where prospects still have their value, but they're really most useful as trade chips. It's understandable to not want to move Judge or Severino without getting a really good return back, but who else is untouchable? If I'm being honest here, the Yankees have more tradable top prospects than ones who should be held onto at all costs. If Max Scherzer isn't the answer, prospects several years away can't be either for a team that claims they want to win every year.