It’s the New York Yankee Way: hold on to a prospect/asset far too long to watch their value depreciate to dirt, or finally get rid of them when it’s evident they’re figuring it out or turning it around.
Just this past year, fans saw the Yankees pull the plug on Luis Cessa, Tyler Wade, Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Gary Sánchez, Joely Rodriguez, Luke Voit and Albert Abreu, all of whom represent varying degrees of the team’s failures in handling certain talents.
In the cases of Cessa and Wade, they’re in the same boat as Abreu — the three were uninspiring players for YEARS and then finally found their footing in 2021. Instead of using them as assets for the remainder of the year and beyond, all were traded, beginning with Cessa at last year’s deadline and Wade and Abreu this offseason.
Were all three intrinsic to the team’s success? Not at all. Did they eventually prove they can provide production and take on a much-needed role? It sure seemed to be trending in that direction.
And for some reason, that’s when the Yankees decided to pull the plug, which speaks to organizational failures over the years with roster personnel. This is nothing new.
Abreu eventually became a casualty because he no longer had minor-league options, but others might also be forgetting the Yankees needed to make a trade for a catcher because they used Sánchez to help address their shortstop vacancy, which then created a void behind the plate.
The Yankees trading Albert Abreu speaks to the team’s roster failures.
Kyle Higashioka as the starter? OK, no reason to not see it through. Ben Rortvedt, a man we’d never heard of, assuming backup duties after coming over in the trade with the Twins? That’s the plan? Oh, then he gets injured … and there’s no other reliable option outside of Rob Brantly?
Because of this, Abreu was sent to the Rangers for Jose Trevino, who will likely be Higgy’s backup in 2022, since, you know, he has more than 39 games of experience at the MLB level (sorry, Rortvedt). And it’s not like the bullpen is overflowing with enough talent/arms, either. The Yankees had to trade from an area they still need to address to fix an area they willingly depleted.
The “out of options” thing doesn’t hold that much weight, either. The Yankees simply needed relievers to eat innings, not everybody needed to be a high-leverage contributor. And outside of Abreu’s two disastrous outings in 2021 (total of 0.2 innings pitched and 11 earned runs against the Rays and Guardians), he proved to be a serviceable arm with a blazing fastball and finally began to show his potential at the big-league level.
Is his departure going to hurt the team? Probably not. But then why hold on to him since 2017 and then trade him the moment he starts to seemingly come into his own?
Or, even worse, why opt to see it almost all the way through after giving the Astros Brian McCann in that trade, which helped them win a World Series, and then pretty much wave the white flag by dealing Abreu for a backup catcher with a career .634 OPS?
Saturday’s trade isn’t what should be regarded as the failure. It’s the entire process/thinking that eventually led to it.