Yankees Editorial: Potential 2015 Trade Targets


As Spring Training nears, the New York Yankees roster still has several holes in it.  While this does not mean the roster cannot compete, it does signal that GM Brian Cashman will probably have to make some trades as the season grows.  If recent summers are any indication of how the Yankees front office will play the trade market, we can expect to see them target players on expiring deals, and luckily for the organization and fans, this season’s crop of to-be free agents is not lacking in talent.

With long term commitments at both catcher and the corner positions, the Yankees don’t figure to be in the market for either of these positions.  If Mark Teixeira goes down, Garrett Jones was brought in to be his insurance.  The Yankees also could play Chase Headley at first, and slide Alex Rodriguez in at third, while letting Jones DH, or even having it be an open position as we saw much of last year.

If Headley goes down, then A-Rod could slide right in.  If Brian McCann goes down, you have to figure that John Ryan Murphy will again be capable of keeping the position afloat.  If he is not, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will be waiting for the call.

Something I would not mind seeing is former Yankee Jose Molina brought back on an incentive based non-guaranteed deal.  The Molina brothers all proved to be great defensive presences behind the plate.  Jose, the middle of the three, has never provided much with his bat, and at 39, you pretty much know what you will get by bringing him in.

This would provide great insurance defensively if McCann goes down, as Molina knows how to handle a staff, and could serve as a mentor for the Yankees catching prospects, particularly Sanchez who’s defensive is said to need improvement.

Up the middle, the Yankees don’t have much offensively, but do have some solid defensive pieces.  If Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew cannot improve on dismal 2014 seasons, the Yankees have little insurance, particularly at short.  Behind Drew, they do have the 7th best second base prospect in the majors, Rob Refsnyder who should make his major league debut this year.

Assuming Didi struggles, Drew can also slide over to shortstop, his natural position, to make way for Refsnyder.  What gets tricky is if they both, or all, struggle, as Brendan Ryan simply is not an everyday shortstop.  The Yankees could give Jose Pirela a shot, but maybe by the summer the Philadelphia Phillies will finally be ready to unload Chase Utley, who would provide a significant improvement, and continue their rebuild or if the Oakland A’s are out of playoff contention, they might try to get something for Ben Zobrist.  These are two playoff tested veterans who would immediately improve the lineup.

Another player the Yankees should target is Washington Nationals shortstop, Ian Desmond, but this will probably have to wait until next winter, as the Nationals figure to be right in the thick of the National League Pennant race, as they are all in on 2015 before Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, another winter target, hit free agency.

Zimmermann seems far more likely to be dealt, as the Nationals now have six viable starters after Tanner Roark having a breakout 2014, and the Max Scherzer signing.  Zimmerman, who is currently listed as the #2 starter on the team’s official site, could be the odd man out, as it was said that they could not afford bringing both him and Desmond back in 2016, and this was before the Scherzer deal.

In the outfield, the Yankees are pretty much set for 2015, and potentially beyond, as Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran all have multiple years left on their contract.  If any of the three go down, that is exactly what Chris Young was re-signed for.  Young, who has never hit higher than .257 (back in 2010) on a season, seemed to find his stroke after the Yankees signed him late in August.  Personally, I would have preferred to see Ichiro brought back, but that ship has sailed as he has signed with the Miami Marlins.

If any of the starting outfielders go down for an extended period of time, we may be forced to deal with Young and Jones receiving a lot of playing time in the outfield, as top prospect Aaron Judge isn’t expected to debut until 2016.  If a long term injury does force the team to search for an upgrade in the outfield, most of the upgrades do not figure to be available.  Several are playing for teams that figure to contend, and there is no way that the Minnesota Twins trade Torii Hunter.  If the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds fall out of contention, then maybe former Yankees prospect Austin Jackson or the rejuvenated Marlon Byrd may become available, as both would be upgrades over Young.

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Where the Yankees figure to most likely be players in the trade market is on the starting pitching front.  While the staff could turn out to be a strength, the health and other factors make it a relative unknown.  If Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia all remain healthy and pitch the way they are capable of, then this staff can be great, especially if Nathan Eovaldi puts it altogether, and Ivan Nova comes back strong.

The chances of all of these things happening are probably not too good, but luckily, there will be upgrades available.

Since the Reds figure to be out of the race come the summer, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake could become available.  With the previously mentioned abundance of starters, the Nationals could make Zimmermann available, or even Doug Fister, but it remains to be seen how they will handle the situation, or if they will move anyone at all.  The usual summer dominating rumors surrounding Phillies pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are inevitable, and either would fit in nicely with the Yankees rotation, as they have proven an ability to handle the big situation.

While the San Diego Padres expect to contend this year, if they fall out of the race, then maybe Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, or even Cory Luebke will become available.  If the Mariners do not compete, I would not mind seeing Hisashi Iwakuma targeted.  The bullpen figures to be set, with depth and talent both.

If Cashman can find ways to improve the team, even with a tweak here and there, and health is not an issue as it was in both 2013 and 2014, this team should compete.  This should be an exciting season either way, however.

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