As July’s trade negotiations begin to heat up for the Yankees and the rest of MLB, general manager Brian Cashman faces major challenges brought on by injuries to players he initially assumed could be included in appealing packages.
Also, several players have substantially underperformed during the first half of the 2021 season, and it’s hard to see how they might be a major part of enticing proposals to acquire upgrades from other teams.
Together, both situations will considerably undercut Cashman’s bargaining power in trade talks, making it difficult for him to land the quality players the Yanks need to improve their position in the highly competitive American League East.
The Yanks do have several minor league prospects they can include in trade proposals that might attract interest from other clubs (e.g., Albert Abreu, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Deivi Garcia, Chris Gittens, Estevan Florial, Oswald Peraza, etc.). Yet, it’s doubtful that these minor leaguers alone will make up for the lack of established players to market.
The list of Bombers who have underperformed is known to fans because so much has been written about them. The list includes, most notably, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres.
Surprisingly, however, little attention has been paid to injured Yankee players and how they will likely tie Cashman’s hands in trade deliberations this month. Let’s see where things stand at this time.
Injured Yankees players who will impact July trade deadline negotiations
The case of Aaron Hicks is a prime example. He’s currently on the 60-day IL following surgery to repair a left wrist injury. The Yanks don’t expect him to return this season. Given his injury-prone history, poor performance, and salary, there’s almost no chance Cashman finds a buyer.
Clint Frazier, often singled out as prime trade bait by many analysts and fans, is dealing with an undisclosed injury, which has likely contributed to his awful 2021. Manager Aaron Boone says that Frazier has had several tests and that the doctors have still not identified the cause of his condition, which was originally believed to be vertigo. He’s now on the 10-day IL without a conclusive timetable for recovery.
What’s most worrisome is that Frazier was thought to have fully recovered from his previous concussion issues, but that may not be the case. While he once was expected to be a key part of a trade package for a quality player, it is now doubtful that any club will want him in a deal involving anyone worthwhile.
Also, Yankees pitchers Zach Britton, Justin Wilson, Darren O’Day, and Clarke Schmidt have spent a lot of time on the IL this year, which has no doubt affected their trade value.
In March, Britton had surgery to remove a bone chip from his throwing elbow after a bout with COVID-19. It took some time for the 11-year veteran to recover. Shortly after returning to the mound, Britton suffered a left hamstring strain, which has further limited him to just five games. He’s expected to be activated in time for the Boston Red Sox series following the All-Star break.
Trading Britton would save the Yanks approximately $6 million, which could help cover the salary of a superb player acquired in a trade. However, most opposing teams may want to shy away from him due to his time on the IL this year and his steep $14 million price tag in 2022. On the positive side, retaining him could give the club insurance if Aroldis Chapman cannot return to his dominant form as a closer during the second half of the season.
Wilson, who was signed as a free agent, has spent substantial time on the IL on two separate occasions this year. He’s pitched a measly 14.2 innings and has a bloated 8.59 ERA to show for it. Wilson will likely be difficult to trade because of his injuries and poor performance on the mound. He will be 34 years old this August and is probably near the end of his career.
Like Wilson, O’Day was signed as a free agent during the offseason. He pitched effectively in April. On May 1, he was placed on the IL due to a right rotator cuff strain. He missed two months of play, with his most recent ailment being an extremely concerning hamstring injury. His return date is unknown. Expect him to be on the shelf for the remainder of the year.
Schmidt was placed on the 60-day IL due to an extensor strain in his right elbow. He’s expected to return soon, perhaps as early as this month, but that’s quite frankly too late. There hasn’t been enough of him the past two years for a team to justify making a considerable trade for the right-hander. Besides, the Yanks might want to keep him because of his perceived potential, assuming he can get healthy and pitch well.
What can Brian Cashman do for the Yankees then?
Because of significant injuries to marketable Yankee players, we should not expect Cashman to pull a rabbit out of a hat before the end of the July trade deadline. Also, there’s a good chance that sellers will be greedy this July and demand the sun and the moon for their star players, even those who are about to become free agents during the offseason.
At best, what’s most likely to happen is that Cashman will acquire only one or two needs to help fill holes in the Yankee 26-man roster during the second half of the season. Perhaps a reliever, starter and/or an outfielder.
Clearly, the Yankees’ GM is in a predicament, and he will probably have to wait until the offseason before he can make any cost-effective, transformative moves to improve the team. Yankees fans don’t want to hear that right now, but this very well might be the reality of the situation over the next two and a half weeks.