The 2022 New York Yankees will be doing some serious retooling at the upcoming trade deadline. though their situation isn’t dire straights like 2021’s bunch, there are still some clear problem areas on the big-league roster — problems that can be solved with the team’s impressive pitching depth.
Matt Blake’s Gas Station Revolution hasn’t just taken over the Yankees’ major-league club; the low minors through the upper levels have all been transformed with high-ceiling pitching prospects. Some of them the Yankees would like to keep, thank you very much, while some are emerging as the definition of trade bait.
After all, if you’re not going to stomp on the gas pedal now, when will you ever? This is a first-place team with one of the largest July division leads we’ve ever seen residing in the best division in baseball. The Yankees are positioned well, but this will not be easy, and there’s no good reason to maintain roster holes if you don’t have to.
Who’ll be the first on the chopping block? Well, who’ve fans seen the most from at the big-league level so far this season? While Clarke Schmidt is definitely both in the Yankees’ short- and long-term plans, JP Sears has gotten two chances to showcase himself in a spot starting role. The Yanks clearly like him, but they’re also operating with a fully-packed 40-man roster. Perhaps he becomes a second piece in a deal the Yankees can’t resist.
Beyond Sears, these buzzworthy names make the most sense to move — though, of course, they could all stay put and dominate in 2023-24, too.
The Yankees’ Headliner: Luis Medina
Medina fits the bill as both one of the Yankees’ highest-profile pitching prospects and one of the most unpredictable.
On any given day, he can rattle off a few dozen snapdragon curveballs and keep the opponent off the board, as he recently did when Somerset was attempting to clinch a playoff berth.
Despite all the raw arm talent, he’s still just as likely to head to the mound without any idea where the ball is going. A possible reliever at the next level, the Yankees would be silly not to shop him while his value is highest.
The Injured Standout: Luis Gil
Every year, it seems the Yankees have an injured top pitching prospect who’s on the shelf and available. For an extremely long time, it was Yoendrys Gomez and Alexander Vizcaino, two relative mystery men occupying 40-man spots as the Yanks waited for them to return and cook.
Now, it might just be Luis Gil, a fan favorite with an electric fastball whose minor-league numbers never quite matched up with his big-league performance in 2021. Though his WHIP was always elevated (19 walks in 29.1 MLB innings in ’21), he always seemed to get the job done, piling up three consecutive scoreless starts of 6.0, 5.0, and 4.2 innings to begin his career.
This season, sadly, the wheels came off at Triple-A, and elbow pain beckoned after just one semi-successful big-league start in Chicago. Gil was just beginning to turn around a 7.89 ERA start when he called for the trainer and left the mound for the final time before his (inevitable) Tommy John procedure.
Whichever team obtains Gil will be getting a 25-year-old with a live arm on Opening Day 2024. The Yankees might not be able to wait that long, though.
The 40-Man Roster Decisions: TJ Sikkema, Hayden Wesneski, Ken Waldichuk
Remember how much fun everybody had protecting 2018 draft picks last fall for a Rule 5 Draft that never happened? This season, it’s the 2019 draft’s turn. That means Anthony Volpe needs to be added to the 40-man roster (he will be), but so do standout pitchers like Hayden Wesneski and Ken Waldichuk, as well as a wild card in TJ Sikkema.
Wesneski and Waldichuk will certainly be protected, if they don’t get dealt first, and there should be a good deal of room for them. The Yankees are losing Aroldis Chapman, Jameson Taillon, Zack Britton and Chad Green this offseason, among others who could find themselves sliced (Stephen Ridings?), leaving plenty of space for big-league upgrades and prospect hugging.
Sikkema, though, has only recently returned from shoulder issues that have threatened to derail his career ever since he was selected early. He’s looked great in limited action with Hudson Valley, but will any team really take a chance on stashing him on the MLB roster for a full season with such little minor-league evidence?
If the Yankees don’t want to take that chance, he could be dealt before the decision ever has to be made.