Yankees: 3 Rule 5 prospects NYY must trade at deadline

Somerset Patriots starting pitcher Janson Junk winds up against the Harrisburg Senators on Friday, May 7, 2021 at TD Bank Ballpark.Janson Junk
Somerset Patriots starting pitcher Janson Junk winds up against the Harrisburg Senators on Friday, May 7, 2021 at TD Bank Ballpark.Janson Junk /
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(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

If you have no interest in learning about who the “Next Garrett Whitlock” will be, then you should be rooting for the Yankees to trade these three prospects on July 30.

Otherwise, they’re going to have to either protect them this winter on an extremely overcrowded 40-man roster or wave goodbye to additional talent. We know it happens, but … it’s so frustrating.

That’s the one downside of the farm heating up at every level at the exact same time: whenever there’s talented lava bubbling up over the sides of the volcano, somebody’s gotta go.

More specifically, a lotta people gotta go. So why not be proactive and deal players you don’t think you’ll have room for this offseason so you don’t lose them for nothing?

In trying to take a rational look at this, we’ve included only players who have boosted their stocks significantly enough this year to be viable third pieces in big-time deals centered around two top-15 prospects. We’ve also chosen not to address the overflowing catchers in the room, considering MLB teams must keep their Rule 5 selections on the active roster all year or else they lose them.

Sure, the Yankees lost Luis Torrens once to a tanking Padres team — which is still pretty crazy, and he’s also good now — but it seems unlikely that Donny Sands and Josh Breaux will be selected, unless a team plans to carry three catchers for all 162.

All things considered, these 40-man question marks are our three most likely players to be sold on Friday instead.

The Yankees might want to trade these 3 players before they leave in the Rule 5.

3. Janson Junk

Janson Junk’s been one of the best pitchers in the entire minor leagues this year.

One of the best. One of the best pitchers in the minors. No matter how goofy that title actually is and how well/poorly you think Junk’s fringe stuff and effective mix will play at the MLB level, you can’t lose someone putting up these numbers without getting something back.

In 61.2 innings, he’s whiffed 62 with a 1.46 ERA and an under-1.00 WHIP of .908. Junk’s pitchability is his primary guiding light, and he’s gotten a bit more love from the FanGraphs of the world as this season has continued. Junk is a name most fans expected to serve as effective filler this year, but as this phenomenon continues, it’s clear he’s become a guy who gets the most out of his stuff and has reached the radar of other MLB teams. You don’t think the Cubs would take a flyer on him and have Kyle Hendricks show him the way?

Perhaps the Yankees should just take the wind out of those sails and swap the two at the deadline, huh? Or protect Junk and trade for Hendricks this offseason, allowing that relationship to thrive with the right-colored pinstripes.

Junk’s a 25-year-old minor-league “veteran,” not a lottery ticket. If the Yankees leave him unprotected, he will get swiped. He’s also been too good for the team to let it come to that.