The MLB trade deadline has come and gone. Teams like the Red Sox, Athletics, and Tigers made the largest moves, while teams like the Phillies and Royals did absolutely nothing. The Yankees were on the quieter side, making two moves that are not headliners, but have great upside. In all, the Yankees at 4PM yesterday look a lot better than the Yankees at 3PM yesterday. However, was the team blocked from even trying to get into the trade game for one of the largest moving pieces?
The first blockbuster move yesterday was the Red Sox sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and a pick. It was a move that serves both teams for what they are looking for, and made both teams better. While Lester was not exactly high on the wish list, he is due to be a free agent after the season, Yankees GM Brian Cashman should have at least been able to kick the tires on what it would have taken to get him. However, we learned today that Red Sox Ben Cherington made it abundantly clear that Lester was not available to the Yankees.
In an interview with MLB Radio, Cashman said, “I dealt with Cherington a few days earlier, he said: ‘Lester is not going to you guys’, they’ll talk to 28 other clubs, not us.” He went on to say, “Ben said that Lester was available to every team but the Yankees, and I understand that.”
There are obvious reasons that Cherington would not want to send Lester to the Yankees, the first being that the Yankees can afford to sign him to an extension and the Sox do not want him forming a relationship with the team. The second reason is, of course, the rivalry. While it is a smart baseball move not to send Lester to the Yankees for the reasons above, there are a number of teams that Cherington should have crossed off the list for the “relationship, then extension” reason. Blatantly telling Cashman the Yankees are the only team Lester cannot go to touches on collusion.
Collusion is a word that is thrown around a lot, so I am apprehensive to use it. Here are the facts, the Yankees are in third place in the division and are hoping to move into a position to get to the Wild Card game. There are two other teams in the division, the Orioles and Blue Jays, that Cherington apparently would have no problem trading Lester to. While neither team has the Yankees money, they are in-division teams that Cherington should not be trading with. Additionally, there are teams with money like the Tigers, Angels, and Dodgers that would have the ability to resign Lester in the offseason. If the goal of the Red Sox is to get him back in the offseason, teams like these should have been on the do not trade list as well. However, only the Yankees made the black ball list.
Let’s be frank, the Red Sox should not have traded Lester to the Yankees. However, Cherington also should not have said that the Yankees were the only team he was unavailable to. Like hitting a player on purpose and saying the ball got away from a pitcher, things like this should be part of the unwritten rules.
Considering what Cashman was confined to with being blocked from players and lacking minor league talent, did he do enough? In short, no. However, I am encouraged that he did not deplete the small minor league pool the team has for a short term rental in a .500 season. The Yankees will have a full off-season with a ton of free agents that they can go after, most notably Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, and they also have some prospects that are starting to turn heads. With one more year in the minors under their belts, some of these prospects should make their way to the Bronx or be used to secure a large piece a year from now at the 2015 trade deadline.