The New York Yankees are still hobbling, dealing with injuries and regressions after the trade deadline, a week of wheeling and dealing that many believed would make the team better following a month-long storm. Turns out, Frankie Montas, Andrew Benintendi, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross and an injured Harrison Bader weren’t enough.
Sadly, if this were pre-2019, the Yankees would still have a chance to fortify the roster, which would’ve been helpful this time around since general manager Brian Cashman traded a starting pitching asset without a move in place to supplement the loss. Up until the end of the 2018 season, the waiver trade deadline existed throughout the month of August, providing teams one last chance to add players to their roster with postseason eligibility.
If we were to guess, the Houston Astros ruined it for everyone, though. Back in 2017, they struck a deal with the Detroit Tigers, who agreed to trade struggling veteran Justin Verlander for a giant package of nothing. Sound familiar? Houston’s famous for doing that (they did the same in the trades for Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke).
The Verlander move had such a rippling effect, though, that MLB likely couldn’t justify having a player of that caliber changing hands during a relatively meaningless transaction period. Verlander in Houston has changed the complexion of the entire AL ever since.
But that’s not going to stop us from going back in time. What if the waiver deadline still existed and the Yankees had a chance to right their wrongs? Who could they have targeted and realistically acquired?
4 Yankees trade targets if August waiver deadline still existed
4. Rockies SS Jose Iglesias
Yankees could use a shortstop right about now, huh? Isiah Kiner-Falefa, despite his consistent ~.270 batting average and above-average defensive range, makes incredibly weak contact and has shown a penchant for beefing routine plays. Quite frankly, Yankees fans saw enough of that in 2020 and 2021 with Gleyber Torres at the position.
And since the Bombers won’t call up one of their top shortstop prospects, perhaps they could’ve convinced the Colorado Rockies to part with Jose Iglesias during the waiver period if the situation had aligned.
The veteran is on a one-year deal and doesn’t figure to be part of the Rockies’ future. They’re also not contending this year, so perhaps getting another month or so out of Iglesias before they could call up one of their own top prospects might’ve inclined them to strike a deal.
Offensively, Iglesias has always been a contact bat, but he also happens to get on base and crank doubles. This year, he’s hitting .316 with a .774 OPS and 108 OPS+. He’s knocked in 41 runs and scored 42 with the help of his 26 doubles.
On the defensive end, he’s a pretty sure glove even though the advanced metrics don’t support him (42nd percentile in Outs Above Average and -5 Defensive Runs Saved). However, he’s been good for a positive dWAR and has only made seven errors in 789.1 innings. It wouldn’t be a massive upgrade, but it’d give the Yankees a true veteran shortstop with a better bat and more consistent glove.
3. Rangers SP Martin Perez
Not sure why the Rangers didn’t trade him before Aug. 2, especially after it was revealed they weren’t talking about a contract extension, but Martin Perez would be a pretty spot-on target for the Yankees after the loss of Jordan Montgomery!
Perez, also a soft-throwing lefty, is even having a better season! He’s 9-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 1.18 WHIP across 22 starts (136 innings). His two years in Boston also helps, with that valuable AL East experience.
The 31-year-old’s first All-Star Game appearance came in 2022 and the Rangers, even if the two parties are interested in keeping the relationship going, would’ve been doing him a favor dealing him to a contender. They can still bring him back after this year! He’s on a one-year, $4 million contract.
Seems like a win-win. The Yankees get another starter — a better one! — to replace Monty and keep their rotation deep, while the Rangers get more prospects from their favorite farm system in the bigs for a player they don’t need at the moment. Should’ve done this before Aug. 2, though.
2. Tigers RP Andrew Chafin
Ah, the Tigers “fire sale” that never was. What is this organization doing? They ended up moving Michael Fulmer and Robbie Grossman despite various reports suggesting they were open to “moving almost everyone.” Then, a week later, they moved GM Al Avila. Fitting.
Well, with a need for bullpen help (and a lefty at that), perhaps Andrew Chafin might’ve interested the Yankees. Detroit has no use for Chafin, who is signed through next year, if they have no plans of contending before 2024 (which is actually a generous timeline for them).
New York could’ve offered prospects and an ability to eat most of that $13 million contract. Such an acquisition would’ve allowed the Yankees to either part with Albert Abreu/Domingo German or option Jonathan Loaisiga for the time being to get him back on track. Adding Chafin’s 2.23 ERA, 2.04 FIP, 1.02 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 36.1 innings could’ve immensely saved this overworked bullpen with high-end veteran assistance. Perhaps at a discount, too, because he’s unvaccinated.
A few extra weeks would’ve made the Tigers realize they should’ve sold more, and it would’ve made the Yankees realize their bullpen acquisitions just weren’t enough.
1. Giants SP Carlos Rodón
And finally, a few more weeks would’ve made the San Francisco Giants realize, to quote Gob Bluth, that’s they’ve “made a huge mistake.” Whatever the Giants did at the trade deadline (does anybody really know?), it clearly didn’t help. They’re now two games below .500 and 6.5 games out of an NL Wild Card spot … which was the only chance they had of making the playoffs anyway.
Apparently, before the Aug. 2 deadline, the Yankees checked in with the Giants on starter Carlos Rodón, but SF ended up not moving their ace (or star slugger Joc Pederson). The two are on one-year deals (counting Rodón’s player option) and more than likely won’t be returning in 2023 because we’d bet the Giants aren’t going to spend big to keep them.
But what if Giants’ executive Farhan Zaidi had a couple extra weeks to diagnose whether the Giants were true contenders or not? Probably would’ve helped! Every team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings upgraded in some fairly significant way before the deadline, on top of already having an edge over the Giants prior to that date.
Though it might’ve been hard for the Yankees to get a chance to claim Rodón, you simply never know. There aren’t many other contenders out there who’d be willing to take on his remaining salary (~$10 million) and give up prospect capital.
Montas and Rodón would’ve been a game-changer that wouldn’t have Yankees fans worrying about innings limits, injuries, and overall firepower in October.