Over the last couple of years, the Yankees seem to have been more about finding gems in the scrap heap, deviating from the past off-seasons of big-time spending. However, the Yankees have also made some waves on the trade market, acquiring some big contributors, such as Curtis Granderson, Boone Logan, Ichiro Suzuki, as well as some soon-to-be (hopefully!) contributors, such as Michael Pineda. Additionally, the Yankees have let some of their free agents go, declining to sign those players as the team attempts to get below the $189 million dollar self-imposed cap. Each of those transactions sent a member of the Yankee farm system elsewhere in the majors. As we enter June, let’s take a trip down memory lane and check in with several former Yankees:
Nick Swisher is having a terrific year for the Indians after a disastrous performance this past post-season with the Yanks. He is hitting around .270/.368/.478, with an .846 OPS, but Swisher’s big contribution to the Indians has been the power numbers, which have been helpful to a team that has struggled to score runs. In just over 200 PAs, Swisher also has hit 7 homers and 20 RBI though the end of May. Swisher has an RAR rating of 19, and an Rtot rating of 6, well above his average rating with the Yankees (1). With 29 walks, Swisher is exactly who he always has been and is a big contributor to Cleveland.
However, at age 32 in the first year of a 4-year/$56 million dollar deal (with a fifth year vesting option), it remains to be seen if he will continue to produce at that level throughout the duration of the deal. Regardless, in the short-term, it looks like the signing is paying dividends for the Indians.
This might be the most talked about trade that has yet to really produce anything. Forget determining who won this one, it might make more sense to determine who lost it less. Michael Pineda was lost for over a year following surgery to repair a shoulder tear. In an effort to obtain what, at the time, was supposed to be a sure-fire anchor of the rotation, the Yankees used their one (perceived) silver bullet by trading Jesus Montero. Touted as an offensive powerhouse, the catcher has only hit an average .234/.281/.356 over his two years in Seattle.
Once compared to Manny Ramirez by Brian Cashman, Montero hit just 15 homers in 2012 and 99 strikeouts. Through the end of May, just before being demoted, Montero had 29 Ks in 110 PAs in 2013. With an average WAR and WAA in the negatives, Montero is actually costing his team games and runs. Now out for up to 8 weeks with a knee tear, it appears that the Yankees may actually come out and lose this one less- Pineda’s ceiling in coming back in higher than what Montero is currently showing. The jury is out for this once-promising Yankees prospect.
The third member of the triumvirate that included Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, Kennedy was shipped to the Diamondbacks in a three-way trade that included the Tigers. Since the trade, Kennedy has been a bit of a horse, pitching over 200 innings every year except for 2010 (194 IP). Additionally, he has been a strikeout machine since 2010, K-ing 169, 198, and 187 in the successive years since, with a very respectable 3.56 ERA from 2010-2012. Kennedy has been very successful, even if his efforts may be tempered slightly by pitching in weakened National League West. However, Kennedy has struggled a bit in 2013, with an inflated ERA of 4.74; additionally, for all the consternation over Hughes’ tendency to give up the home run (a valid concern), Kennedy has already given up nine in 2013. On the whole, the trade did bring in a very serviceable (only?) lefty in the pen for the Yankees, and Granderson’s two seasons of 40+ homers cannot be easily dismissed. Considering who got what all around in this trade (Detroit got Max Scherzer), each team really won, and Kennedy’s move was not a huge loss for the Yanks.
So, Yankees fans, what say you? Did the Yankees make a mistake not re-signing Swisher? Should the team have kept Kennedy? Was the Montero move a good deal, even if it’s still up for debate? What would you have done? At the end of the day, each of these guys has long since departed the Yankees, and the team must move forward with what they have at present. The future, and the past, has been successful without these guys, but the questions remains- would they have been more successful by retaining them?