The fate of the 2014 New York Yankees is very much up in the air until they find out how long they will be without their ace, Masahiro Tanaka.
Another team that is scrambling due to an injury to a star player is the St. Louis Cardinals. Word came out Thursday that Yadier Molina will be sidelined for 8-12 weeks after tearing a ligament in his thumb Wednesday. Molina is not only an all-star backstop, he is the heart and soul of a team that contends year-in and year-out.
How St. Louis elects to replace the on-field contributions is anyone’s guess, but the Yankees seem like a perfect trade partner, if that is the route the Cardinals choose. Brian McCann is obviously not going anywhere, but one area the Yankees have quite a bit of depth is catcher. John Ryan Murphy opened a lot of eyes with his solid play as McCann’s backup earlier this year. He showed he’s a capable Major League hitter and, like Molina, works well with his pitching staff.
Francisco Cervelli is a proven Major League catcher, all though teams may not look at him as a guy that can be a solid offensive player everyday. Gary Sanchez is the top prospect in the Yankees’ system, but he is not Major League ready, so the Cardinals most likely are not interested. Murphy and Cervelli are two players Brian Cashman should make available to St. Louis, regardless of whether the Yankees are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
The Yankees will likely target one of St. Louis’ starters, as that is the teams biggest issue. Adam Wainwright is not going anywhere, but beyond that the Cardinals have young talented arms like Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez. Miller and Lynn will be harder to pry away, but Martinez is a young player with a lot of upside. The Cardinals bullpen has not been a strength, so the Yankees could look to sweeten a deal by offering a guy that could help in long relief (David Phelps) or a back-of-the-bullpen guy (Adam Warren).
The Yankees have a few other youngsters (Jose Pirela, Robert Refsnyder, Zoilo Almonte and Zelous Wheeler) that could be added to a deal for Miller or Lynn. If Tanaka is going to miss significant time, the Yankees could look to become sellers. If that is the case I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Robertson’s name dangled, given the emergence of Dellin Betances. St Louis could use a proven closer if they want to make a run.
More on the Yankees’ thinking will be known once news breaks on Tanaka’s future, but if the Yankees are looking to make a deal, St. Louis should be Cashman’s first call.