This Yankees prospect is almost guaranteed to be traded this summer

Feels like fate, based on how the Yankees have acted recently.
Hudson Valley Renegades players, from left, Ben Cowles, Ben Rice and Spencer Henson arrive for media day on April 5, 2023.

Renegades Media Day
Hudson Valley Renegades players, from left, Ben Cowles, Ben Rice and Spencer Henson arrive for media day on April 5, 2023. Renegades Media Day / Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal /

When the Yankees make prospect-for-big-leaguer trades, where in their pipeline do they typically look to first? Areas of surplus, yes, but more importantly, they comb through the list of players they'll have to protect from the Rule 5 Draft next offseason. The untouchables, they keep. The players stuck in between or blocked, they deal.

That's how the Joey Gallo trade package was constructed, almost in its entirety. Glenn Otto, Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran were all on the protection bubble (or off of it), so the Yankees made certain that finding room for the trio on the 40-man roster instantly became the Rangers' problem.

The Yankees always seem to take an overstuffed 40-man into the fall, no matter how many free agents seem likely to depart. They'll always need room for new additions; even the lightest-spending Yankee teams add a cluster of free agents. That means, with around five or six spots to work with, the cream of the crop is guaranteed admission. The players who are a tick below? The Yanks usually seek to deal them, rather than lose them for nothing.

And if those players are infielders with value, ranked below Roderick Arias and George Lombard Jr., as well as Jorbit Vivas and Caleb Durbin (in the Yankees' eyes), they'll probably be deadline headliners. That's where middle infielder Jared Serna sits; he'll be eligible this fall, and the 5'7" mighty mite currently has 11 homers at High-A Hudson Valley.

But perhaps having a more impressive season is Ben Cowles, ranked 29th on MLB Pipeline's current Top 30 and manning third base for the Double-A Somerset Patriots. Cowles' versatility will be prized this summer, and he appears to be peaking at the right time. So, who takes a chance on him in exchange for a reliever and immediately consents to give him a 40-man roster spot at the end of the season?

Yankees could trade middle infielder Ben Cowles this summer before he's Rule 5 eligible

It can certainly be argued that Cowles deserves a spot in this franchise's future more than Oswald Peraza, at the moment, but ... you have to give to get. Cowles, right now, represents the perfect mix of someone who's finding his stride and has value, as well as a player who doesn't fit into the big-league roster puzzle easily, if at all. Peraza doesn't either, but the Yankees would be selling at an extreme discount; given that he already occupies a 40-man spot, they might as well try to work it out.

DJ LeMahieu is still under contract for two more seasons after 2024. Oswaldo Cabrera has proven to be a valuable utility option. So has Jon Berti, when healthy. Durbin could slot in for Gleyber Torres next season, as could Vivas. So could a (relatively low-cost) free agent addition with higher upside than any of the Yankees' Triple-A names. A Luis Rengifo trade makes all the sense in the world for both the Angels and Yankees, and he could become an option; he's under contract through 2025.

Rengifo and a reliever (Adam Cimber? Luis García?) for a pitcher and Cowles, who's hitting .315 with an .890 OPS at Double-A, but rarely gets mentioned? Who says no? Probably not the Yankees, given what they're working with.