The 2023 New York Yankees buoyed their season with a series sweep over the weekend against the Kansas City Royals. Firmly in the Wild Card mix, the Yankees still can't justify a full-scale sell-off beyond the players they need to clear in order to cut salary/open roster spots. That said ... at the end of the next week and a half, they'll have played the Mets, Orioles (on the road), Rays and Astros. They'll know exactly what they are when Sean Casey's offense is confronted by contenders.
It's possible that when Aug. 1 rolls around next Tuesday, the Yankees will be bereft and looking to clean house. It's more likely, though, that they won't be able to swallow their pride and pack it in during a prime Aaron Judge/Gerrit Cole season. That means there will be some very specific missteps they'll have to avoid at the trade deadline.
No rentals. No career-long average players peaking right now. No expensive former top prospects who aren't worth the price tag (Michael Fishman, you paying attention here?).
Perhaps most importantly, none of the same process as last year. That process didn't work. The results were not there. Do not do that again.
The Yankees have already been connected to a few targets who feel either too expensive or actively harmful. Add in a veteran starter they've already been tempted by in the past, and it wasn't difficult to compile this list of three players who wouldn't help this year's cause.
3 trade targets Yankees can't afford to overpay for at 2023 MLB Trade Deadline
Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals
No player floated in rumor columns has felt more tempting to Fishman and the analytics department than Dylan Carlson.
Still just 24, Carlson was very recently one of baseball's top prospects, deemed untouchable in last summer's Juan Soto trade talks between the Cardinals and Nationals. In 2023, he's looked a lot more like Twins-era Aaron Hicks, hitting .238 with a 94 OPS+ and posting a .643 OPS in his past 28 days' worth of baseball. His profile is essentially calling out to the Yankees, waiting to be saved.
Technically, buying low on Carlson wouldn't be the worst long-term experiment. Only problem is the Cardinals aren't giving off an air of desperation to part with him. The cost might not be all that low here. While there might be an intriguing "sneaky platoon" element at play, too, that's no reason to surrender three prospects (likely all pitchers) for the same value against lefties as, say, Randal Grichuk.
You want to give up top talent in an effort to lead the charge in Carlson's reclamation project? Wait until the offseason. It's unlikely Sean Casey and Co. will be able to implement changes and alter the Cardinals outfielder's life by mid-August anyway.