There has been a lot of ink spilled this season about the lack major league prospects produced by the Yankee farm system. On the current Yankee roster the only position players who came up through the Yankee system are Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, John Ryan Murphy and Alfonso Soriano. On the mound, the Yankees have several homegrown pitchers on the roster including David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno.
However, Pittsburgh has acquired some Yankee talent. Behind the plate they have the currently injured former Yankee Russell Martin and Chris Stewart. In left field is a former Yankee top prospect, Jose Tabata, who was traded to the Pirates in the Xavier Nady deal. In the bullpen, the Pirates closer is former Yankee Mark Melancon. He was traded to the Astros in the deal for Lance Berkman. Their best starting pitcher is Gerrit Cole, who was originally drafted by the Bombers. Cole opted for college instead.
Trading prospects is an age old tradition as long as the game itself. And more times that not it works out better for the team trading it’s prospects than the team receiving the prospects. Prospects are unproven and anything but a sure thing. It is the rare case where a Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps situation arises. The key however is maximizing the value garnered from those prospects.
A classic example is the case of Tony Armas Jr. Armas Jr was the son of former All-Star Tony Armas and a top Yankee prospect in August 1997 when he was traded to the Red Sox for Mike Stanley, a one time All-Star catcher for the Yankees who was a part-time DH by that point in his career. The Red Sox would then turn around and flip Armas Jr to the Expos along with Carl Pavano that off-season in exchange for Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox used the same prospect in a deal for a borderline Hall of Famer that the Yankees did for two months of a righthanded DH. The Yankees did not maximize value.
Right now the Yankees have several young interesting trade pieces in Dellin Betances, John Ryan Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, Adam Warren, Yangervis Solarte and others. Any of whom might be included in a trade for a starting pitcher like the Cubs Jeff Samardzija or Braves Alex Wood. The key is to maximize the value received. Every team dreams of trades like the one that brought David Cone to the Yankees in 1995 for three prospects (Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon), two of which never made the majors and the third logged less than 100 innings there. But good trades tend to hurt as much as they benefit.
The 2009 three team trade between the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks is a great example of a trade where everyone was happy and everyone was upset. The Yankees received Curtis Granderson who topped 40 homers twice in his four years in the Bronx. But they had to give up future 20 game winner Ian Kennedy and 2010 Rookie of Year runner up Austin Jackson. The Diamondbacks got Kennedy and 2009 All Star Edwin Jackson who would pitch a no-hitter for the club. But the Diamondbacks lost furture Cy Young winner Max Scherzer in the deal. Scherzer went to the Tigers, who lost an MVP candidate in Granderson and an All-Star in Edwin Jackson but gained a Cy Young winner in Scherzer and a lead off man in Austin Jackson.
GM Brian Cashman knows a move will need to be made between now and July 31. He will most likely need to trade one or more of the good young baby Bombers who have shown promise this season. He just needs to make sure he is getting value in return. He needs to be able to see the big picture and make the Pedro trade and avoid the Stanley deal this season.