5 Yankees veterans in danger of being replaced by the trade deadline

Sorry, we have to say it though.
Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Upgrades are coming eventually, New York Yankees fans. In fact, they need to if this team wants to win a World Series. The offense is not as deep as others might think it is, and the pitching staff is starting to show cracks as injuries pile up and guys get overworked.

One thing we will say, though, is that Yankees fans didn't see this many big names massively underperforming in 2024. And no, we're not talking about Trent Grisham, Jahmai Jones, Oswaldo Cabrera, and whatever you want to make out of the team's catching situation.

We're talking about key players in the starting lineup and veterans who were relied upon to seize an important role in a championship-or-bust 2024 campaign. The Yankees are undoubtedly good, but they can't be fully reliant on Aaron Judge and Juan Soto going nuclear every night. It's not realistic.

The Yankees are still the best team in MLB, but they are top-heavy with some guys running out of steam (or others just failing to catch on altogether). Brian Cashman's biggest flaw in recent seasons is hanging out on the sidelines arbitrarily waiting for things to improve or for the team to "turn a corner" as the organization famously loves to say.

Can't do that this year. And these players might run the risk of getting replaced at the trade deadline.

Yankees Rumors: Which players could be replaced at this year's trade deadline?

DJ LeMahieu

LeMahieu has been a savior defensively because of his versatility, but he really couldn't have had a worse offensive start after returning from injury. He's hitting just .200 with a .490 OPS and 43 OPS+ in 17 games. Zero extra-base hits. Five GIDP.

We hate to be critical because of how incredible LeMahieu was in 2019 and 2020, but those days are so far gone now. He's no longer a serviceable everyday major leaguer based on what we've seen since 2021. Injuries are unfortunately a part of the game, and he's been unable to overcome them.

The Yankees need to relegate LeMahieu to full-time bench duty and use him as a versatile depth option. He can't be in this lineup every night, especially during the second half of the season if this play continues. Nothing suggests it will turn around, so the Yankees will probably have to act fast.

Anthony Rizzo

This is another disheartening situation, but Anthony Rizzo's best days have clearly been behind him for over a year now. Whether it's due to his head injury or the aging process, it's been a considerable downturn and it'd be borderline crazy for the Yankees to welcome him back into the fold around two months from now and give him everyday reps.

It wasn't working before his unfortunate forearm fracture, and it won't be working from the middle of August through October when he'd theoretically be back. Rizzo shouldn't be outright shucked off the roster, but he should be a part-time player or some sort of a clubhouse influence.

Plus, if he can't play defense, then he really has no place taking up reps on a World Series contender. Again, we feel horrible saying it, but what else are we supposed to do?

Tommy Kahnle

Ditto. Again, Kahnle is awesome. He's an excellent personality to have on your team. You know he's busting his rear end to give you every last ounce of his capabilities. But he's been felled by injuries and is not the same reliever he once was.

Like LeMahieu, this is a small sample size, but the results are alarming when you compare them to his decent chunk of play last year. Kahnle has a 3.86 ERA, 6.14 FIP and 1.39 WHIP across 12 games. And the underlying metrics don't help him out one bit. He cannot enter the game with runners on. He cannot survive an inning if he lets a runner on. Last year's disaster has continued into 2024.

Kahnle has a role on the Yankees, but certainly not as a seventh- or eighth-inning guy. It's just not happening unless he turns back the clock to, when, 2019? That was five years ago.

The Yankees know they need relief help, as per the latest trade rumors. Kahnle isn't going anywhere, but he should be demoted to the lowest-leverage outings possible while more capable arms arrive to reinforce the bullpen.

Caleb Ferguson

Do you need a winded explanation here? The Yankees took a worthwhile swing to bring Ferguson into the fold this past offseason. It sadly hasn't worked out. Not really a lefty specialist. Definitely not a high-leverage option.

He might have a spot in the 'pen as a left-hander, but a 4.94 ERA, 4.12 FIP and 1.44 WHIP isn't going to cut it — especially when he's logging 4.6 BB/9 and allowing an insane amount of hard contact. Fans never really feel good when he's on the mound, and there's a reason why.

Can't be a go-to option down the stretch or in the postseason. Don't think we're saying anything controversial here.

Gleyber Torres

This is no longer a "hot take." Torres is a serviceable second baseman in theory, but New York is not the place for him. He can't handle the spotlight. He makes too many mistakes to be employed by a team that is covered ferociously by the media. He's done next to nothing to make the Yankees better in 2024. And he's a seven-year veteran currently in a contract year. What more must we say?

Torres has the most errors among second basemen in MLB (despite making many highlight-reel plays). He's been good for 0.6 WAR. He's hitting .221 with a .641 OPS, 82 OPS+ and 84 wRC+. It's just not good enough when he's supposed to be a key supplemental piece in the most talented lineup he'll probably ever be a part of.

The Yankees would more than likely be better off shipping Torres elsewhere. We're not sure who would want him, but maybe another team would be open to taking a chance to see if he can rebound during the second half, giving them an opportunity to sign him to an extension in the offseason. He's still young and possesses the necessary talent. We've seen it before.

It's just progressively gotten to be a worse situation for him with the Yankees. And the time has come. This team would benefit greatly from having another second baseman, whoever that may be.