Yankees-Anthony Volpe debate is even more polarizing ahead of trade deadline

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Anthony Volpe #7 of the American League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the National League at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Anthony Volpe #7 of the American League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the National League at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

“Trade all the prospects, who cares?!”

“You CAN’T trade Anthony Volpe! He’s a future All-Star!”

That’s what seems to be the current debate among most New York Yankees fans, and then we have rival teams hop into the mix during trade talks:

“Sooo … how about Anthony Volpe for Frankie Montas, Mr. Cashman?”

It’s all just so infuriating. First of all, you trade any and all prospects for the right player. The Reds asking the Yankees for Volpe in the Luis Castillo trade talks was patently absurd (and the A’s really are apparently doing that with Montas, too!), but that’s what happens when you have a team like the Mariners pop in and offer a massive overpay with their top two prospects (and two others).

Never is this viewed in the proper context, though. Of course, if one team offers you their top prospect, you’re going to counter other teams with that piece of info, but it’s not relative.

The Mariners have their shortstop for the next five years in JP Crawford, so parting with Marte, who’s also only at High-A, really wasn’t a monumental loss to help Seattle contend in 2022 and 2023. Volpe is the Yankees’ top prospect with future aspirations of taking over shortstop for the long haul. That’s why the Yankees acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa this offseason. There’s a clear succession plan in place. Marte being No. 1 in the M’s system does not liken him to Volpe, who’s No. 1 in the Yankees system. The number being attached to their name doesn’t tell the whole story.

One could also argue M’s No. 2 prospect Edwin Arroyo, who also went to the Reds in the Castillo trade, isn’t as valuable as Yankees’ No. 2 Oswald Peraza, who has 14 homers, 39 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 77 Triple-A games this year following a breakout 2021 campaign at High-A and Double-A.

The Yankees-Anthony Volpe discussion is getting exhausting after Luis Castillo trade

You see what we’re saying. So the lack of context surrounding the value of Volpe compared to other teams’ top shortstop prospects is frustrating, and is seemingly further pushing fans into one of two camps: “trade Volpe if it’s going to help you win a World Series now” or “don’t trade Volpe because he’s the future.”

And here’s where it gets more nuanced! You don’t just trade your No. 1 prospect in the name of “getting better.” Does Castillo guarantee the Yankees a championship? Not exactly! This team still needs to get rid of Joey Gallo as well as revamp the bullpen. A starter of Castillo’s caliber certainly moves the needle, but not without the other issues being solved.

Just because Castillo was the one true ace-like name available on the market and there for the taking shouldn’t make the Yankees more desperate than they need to be, either. If they hadn’t made bigger pushes for guys like Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and more in the past, why would that change for Castillo, who led the NL in losses and walks just a year ago?

On the flip side … Volpe still has ways to go. He’s at Double-A playing some impressive defense while slashing .253/.350/.473 with 57 runs scored, 15 homers, 49 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 75 games. Really good … but he’s not untouchable by any means! If the Yankees wanted Juan Soto, Volpe was undoubtedly going to the Nationals. If, say, a pitcher like Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara hits the market, Volpe is gone. Shohei Ohtani? It’s not even a debate. What are the odds Volpe, packaged with anyone else, reaches the heights of guys like Soto, Alcantara or Ohtani?

There’s an odd wedge between fans who want to part with any and all young talent in the name of getting better right now and those who prospect hug because they love projectability. We can assess Volpe’s future all we want — but there’s no guarantee and no way to tell until he makes his MLB debut. He’s not Wander Franco or Julio Rodriguez. He was a first-round pick who disappointed in his first professional season and rebounded admirably after the pandemic to shift the narrative around him.

Could he be a star? Absolutely. Should we be trading him for a player that will alter the trajectory of the franchise for 2022 and beyond? Also absolutely.

The Mariners-Castillo trade has perhaps complicated the discussion even more, but the prevailing sentiment should’ve never changed. Volpe is more valuable than most No. 1 prospects out there (and is widely viewed among the top 10 names in MLB) and shouldn’t be traded solely because of bidding wars … but if the right player comes along, there shouldn’t be any hesitation in moving the 21-year-old.