Let's talk worst-case scenario for the New York Yankees, since so many fans enjoy doing that anyway, even when things appear to be fine. See, we're doing content for everybody out there. Don't say we're not full-service here!
With the Yanks nine games back of the AL East lead, some are already writing off a division crown. If you choose to do so, fine. But it's the middle of May and the Rays won't be winning at an 80% clip all year as they face the bottom of MLB. Just wanted to throw that out there before you fully bury the Bombers.
But even the most optimistic fans could easily see this campaign going off the rails. Why would anybody think the injury situation is guaranteed to get better? General manager Brian Cashman doesn't have many assets to trade at the deadline to upgrade the roster. It's hard to rely on prospect promotions propping this team up in the middle of the summer if certain guys don't turn it around. There are many avenues in which this year could be spoiled.
In the event the Rays keep running away with it, the Red Sox remain good, the Blue Jays finally find it within themselves to not choke, and the Orioles actually sustain a decent winning pace with their young roster, the Yankees might be staring at a lost cause. Is it worth fighting tooth and nail for a Wild Card spot if it's starting to look more and more like 2021?
How about we rewind to 2016, a year that ended with a winning record, but without a playoff appearance. And man, this roster was nauseating. But what did the Yankees do? They re-tooled, sold off some non-big picture assets, got a ton of value in return, and then made the ALCS the next year. It's apparently not out of the question for that same kind of sell-off to happen in 2023.
Yankees Rumors: New York to conduct partial sale at trade deadline?
Here's the latest from ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required):
"Flipping from contenders to rebuilding is something rarely entertained by Cashman in his 26 years running the team, but he is viewed by his peers as a realist, and he's always been decisive -- they remember in the summer of 2016 how he traded both Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman for prospects. If they fall far behind, he'll take a hard look about whether that's something he should do, one GM said. The Yankees have bullpen pieces to offer, but another name mentioned by rival execs is that of Luis Severino, who is currently recovering from a right lat strain. He would have to pitch in big league games and demonstrate he is healthy, but if that happens and the Yankees decide to trade him, Severino could have value."- Buster Olney, ESPN
And there's the bombshell! Luis Severino might be the first to go if this happens to be the case (as long as he pitches in a good amount of games before Aug. 2).
Had the right-hander not complained the last two years, maybe things could've been different.
But, yeah, if you look at this roster, Severino will bring back the most value in a trade (because he's a starting pitcher with a high ceiling) and would also rid the Yankees of a headache/clear a considerable amount on the payroll without an extra year of control attached.
Then you have the second tier of guys who could be dealt that carry value, like Gleyber Torres, Wandy Peralta and Domingo Germán. And then you have the pipe dreams, like Josh Donaldson, Aaron Hicks, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Frankie Montas -- but they would only clear payroll.
Nobody wants it to get to this point, but if some baseball insiders are considering the possibility, we guess we have to as well.