Yankees should play let’s make a deal with Cubs
The Yankees have question marks at second base and third base. The Cubs are currently without a closer. So why don’t the two teams trade from positions of depth to benefit one another?
Before the Winter Meetings, I wrote a piece that suggested the Yankees would be wise to fill their vacant DH spot with Cubs slugger, and atrocious defender Kyle Schwarber.
Well, as we are all familiar with by now, general manager Brian Cashman decided it was more advantageous to trade for reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, instead.
Whether or not Stanton becomes the club’s primary DH, or manager Aaron Boone rotates the spot between the many outfielders on the 25-man roster, remains to be seen.
The only downfall of the Stanton deal — and I say that with .0001 sincerity, is by shipping Starlin Castro to the Marlins, second base is now without a definitive starter.
Likewise for third base, after Cashman, the rascally rabbit, somehow convinced the Padres to take all of Chase Headley’s one-year, $13 million contract.
As much as the fans would love to see the Yankees install both Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in the infield come Opening Day, it’s not going to happen.
There is a multitude of reasons why, including service time, coming back from injury and defensive inability. If you don’t know which attribute is related to whom, hit me up on Twitter and we can discuss it further.
Yes, there are internal candidates to fill the position as stop gaps, namely Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade. There are also expensive alternatives on the free agent market like Mike Moustakas, Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips.
But for what’s it worth, keeping with the notion that the Yankees will indeed stay below the $197 million luxury tax threshold, thereby resetting the penalty clause for 2019, when Manny Machado becomes available; the Yanks should look to a familiar trade partner in the Cubs to swap talented players from positions of depth.
Wade Davis, the Cubs’ closer in 2017 recently signed the most lucrative contract for a reliever in baseball history with the Rockies, three years, $52 million. And though the Cubbies did ink 33-year-old Brandon Morrow to a two-year, $21 million deal, they did so with the intention of using him as a swingman.
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Morrow looked fantastic for the Dodgers in the postseason, but this is still a guy with a laundry list of shoulder injuries that will be hardpressed to not only stay healthy but duplicate his 2.06 ERA, 10.31 K/9 against 1.85 BB/9 and 45 percent groundball rate.
Which is why Cashman should make a call to Chicago and offer the services of Dellin Betances for one of two infielders.
My first choice would be to pry away 25-year-old Javier Baez. Forget about the comparisons in terms of talent and attitude to Machado; this kid needs to be in the lineup every game.
Coming off a season in which he hit .273 with 25 home runs and 75 RBI while providing elite defense at a multitude of infield positions, it won’t be easy to acquire the soon-to-be All-Star. But putting together a package of Betances, an outfielder not named Estevan Florial and a young arm could entice the Cubs to at least consider their options.
For those who feel Baez will never be moved, then how about the Yanks ask for Ian Happ? Unless Happ is slated to be the centerfielder of the future, which is cloudy, considering Albert Amora Jr. is still in tow, and that pesky Bryce Harper rumor keeps popping up, which would push Jason Heyward and his gigantic contract to center, where will the Cubbies play Happ?
In just 359 at-bats, the 23-year-old played five different positions, while slugging 24 long balls and 68 RBI. Though his 111 strikeouts need to be cut down, the left-handed hitter would thrive in Yankee Stadium, and like Baez, are low-cost solutions (in terms of $) for the long-haul.
With Baez or Happ at second base and Torres, the former Cubs’ farmhand at third base, the Yankees’ infield would be set. Andujar then becomes a DH option strictly in 2019 once Brett Gardner’s contract expires, or is deemed expendable and could be traded for what else is needed.
The final option Cashman could consider is inquiring about veteran utility player Ben Zobrist. I get that Zobrist is loyal to Joe Maddon, and at 36 with declining numbers isn’t worth the $16.5 million he’ll make in 2018.
Because of this, he’ll likely come on the cheap — meaning the Yanks could keep Betances.
If Cash were to get inventive and swap less desirable contracts (Adam Warren back to Chicago?), Zobrist’s return to the AL East could rejuvenate him for the remainder of his two contractual years. He also wouldn’t be the type of player that would block Torres or Andujar’s eventual arrival to the big leagues.
At this time there is no trade chatter about Betances, which makes sense considering his meltdown in the Postseason.
However, if the 29-year-old can find himself, and rediscover the pinpoint accuracy that once made him so feared and efficient, he could garner precisely what the Yankees need to solidify their 2018 World Series push.
Next: Trade offers for Fulmer and Archer rejected
Trading from one of the team’s primary strengths, the bullpen, to acquire top talent that is already producing at a high-rate, is the type of bold move that wins championships.