The New York Yankees have never heard of the term “happy medium.” It’s either unreasonably flashy moves or shopping in the bargain bin for the richest organization in MLB.
Perhaps some moderation can help this organization? It sure could make a difference in their analytical approach.
But if general manager Brian Cashman learns anything after this disastrous 2021 campaign, it’s that he really needs to improve his approach at the trade deadline moving forward.
In 2019 and 2020, he did nothing when the team clearly needed pitching reinforcements. In 2021, the Yankees didn’t exactly need major additions — just contact-heavy lefty bats that also possessed speed and adequate defense.
Instead, Cashman went out and spent prospect capital on Joey Gallo, a redundant player for this Yankees’ lineup, and Anthony Rizzo, who was set to become a free agent, despite already having Luke Voit on the roster.
At the time, the moves were well-received because Yankees fans were so used to inactivity at the trade deadline, and this time around Cashman responded with blockbuster-esque deals during a time the Yankees seemed to be on life support.
But we all ignored the little things because of the household names that arrived in the Bronx. In the end, Gallo and Rizzo very much didn’t do enough to move the needle for this team that finished tied with the Boston Red Sox, and it’s clear the Atlanta Braves’ low-key deadline acquisitions have blown Cashman’s out of the water.
The Atlanta Braves made the Yankees look really, really foolish at the trade deadline.
Heading into the deadline, the Braves were treading water. They had lost their best pitcher and best offensive player earlier in the year (among others), but general manager Alex Anthopoulos saw an opportunity. The NL East was far from won and he figured out a way to surrender as little capital as possible to upgrade the Braves roster in ways nobody could’ve imagined.
- Acquired OF Joc Pederson for prospect 1B Bryce Ball
- Acquired OF Eddie Rosario for INF Pablo Sandoval
- Acquired OF Adam Duvall for C Alex Jackson
- Acquired OF Jorge Soler for prospect P Kasey Kalich
- Acquired C Stephen Vogt for minor league 1B Mason Berne
- Acquired RP Richard Rodriguez for pitchers Bryce Wilson and Ricky DeVito
While Vogt and Rodriguez haven’t been on the playoff rosters, both assumed significant roles in helping Atlanta capture the NL East crown.
As for the others? Pederson is a known performer in October. Smart … almost a move the Yankees should’ve made? Rosario, Duvall and Soler were all underperforming players on bad teams that certainly could’ve benefitted from a change of scenery and some protection in a productive lineup. What happened? Uh, exactly that. Here are their stats since joining the Braves:
- Rosario – .271 average and .903 OPS with seven homers and 16 RBI in 33 games
- Duvall – .226 average and .800 OPS with 16 homers and 45 RBI in 55 games (he led the NL in RBI)
- Soler – .269 average and .882 OPS with 14 homers and 33 RBI
- Pederson (in Oct.) – three homers and eight RBI in seven games
As for Rizzo and Gallo? Barely above average and very below average. Clay Holmes was a good pickup, but that’s not going to define Cashman’s decision making.
The Yankees saw what they needed before the trade deadline. Good defense, speed, lefty bats and energy, all of which were provided by Greg Allen, Estevan Florial and Ryan LaMarre. It was right in front of them. But the front office always knows better, don’t they?