The trade deadline is approaching quickly, and will arrive at 4 PM Thursday. The Yankees need to avoid the urge to panic and overpay for players simply because the deadline is about to pass. Trades can, and will, occur in August. July 31 is merely the non-waiver deadline. Trades can continue throughout August with the singular provision that the players pass through waivers first. And most tradeable players do end up passing through waivers.
The Yankees have been linked to a plethora of players in the past few weeks, and have made some modest upgrades acquiring Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley and Chris Capuano. They still need another bat in the lineup, most likely one who can play second or a corner outfield spot, along with a fresh arm in the bullpen and another starting pitcher. Players who fit all of these needs will still be available in August via waivers and trades. Plus their price in August will be cheaper than it will be this week. The Yankees can also expect to be active with claims on the waiver wire, blocking potential players from getting to the Orioles or Blue Jays.
Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Josh Willingham, Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist and others will likely get through waivers and be available for trades in August. However, if I was Brian Cashman, I wouldn’t even let it get that far. I would put claims on players like it was going out of style, but to try and improve the Yankees and to try and avoid letting the teams ahead of the Yankees in the standings from improving themselves. For example, if the Phillies put Lee on waivers, the Yankees could place a claim on the veteran pitcher, giving the Phillies the option of either pulling the player back and making him untradeable, trading him to the Yankees only, or releasing him and his contract to the Yankees for nothing.
There is the real risk the Phillies would just let Lee and all the money owed him go to the Bronx, but more likely they would work out a deal with the Yankees or be saddled with Lee until the end of the year. It is a rare case that the player is allowed to just leave the team for nothing. But it has happened to the Yankees in the past, most notably when Jose Canseco was waived by Tampa in 2000, and the Yankees wanted to avoid him going to the Blue Jays in a tight AL East race. Canseco ended up riding the pine for the most part for three months in the Bronx, but he did get a World Series ring.
There are a lot of factors and variables that will still need to play out over the last two months of the season. The Yankees might get Michael Pineda back sometime in August, and Masahiro Tanaka might be available for the stretch run in September, although Yankee fans will not believe either until they see it. The Yankees also got team home tun leader Mark Teixeira back in action last night for the first time in a week. It will be interesting to see what Cashman does, if anything, before Thursday’s deadline, but it will be equally as interesting to see how he handles the August waiver wire.