WESTCHESTER, NY – As the MLB Trading Deadline approaches and the New York Yankees hover around .500, the Bronx brass has a decision to make. You always want your team to roll the dice and go for it when they have a chance. And sometimes, a few missing pieces can really revitalize a lineup. The Mets turned their offense around last year with Cespedes and a few role players. It’s tempting, especially when you’re a big market team with a fan base that expects to be competitive every year.
The NY Rangers couldn’t resist the call and added pieces at the deadline instead of worrying about their future. Keith Yandle, their most valuable chip, was not traded and ended up leaving for next to nothing. They traded for Eric Staal, giving up a solid prospect and more draft picks. You may be aware that the Rangers aren’t exactly flush with draft picks in the next few years. In hockey, a few tweaks can really turn things around. The Penguins went from early underachievers to champions. And of course, King Henrik is not getting any younger. But still, you have to be able to take emotion out of it and analyze whether your team has a real shot. Going into the playoffs, the Rangers were inconsistent. The metrics showed a team that was lucky to be where they were. But they went for it anyway, and mortgaged their future.
The Yankees need a front office and ownership that isn’t afraid to do what they must. I hate to admit that the Red Sox have done this successfully more than once. They’re not afraid to tear it down and start again. In 2012, for example, they were somehow able to get fading stars Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez off their roster in one trade. This cleared them $250 million in payroll over the next few years. Clearing that space allowed them to retool, and they won the World Series in 2013.
The Yankees should be sellers. They’re hamstrung by an aging roster, huge deadwood contracts, and an inflexible roster. They lack the roster flexibility to find playing time for Rob Refsnyder, who can clearly hit. The don’t have an avenue for prospects like Aaron Judge to get to the big club. Sure, A-Rod is finding some bench lately, and no one is crying about that. But then you have a $20 million dollar a year bench player that can’t pinch run or play defense. He can give you one pinch hit AB per game at best. This limits what you can do as a manager. It’s almost better to start him and hope he finds something. The starters haven’t exactly been inning eaters, so they probably will continue to keep 12 pitchers. With the necessary backup catcher and and utility infielder taking up two more of the bench spots, Girardi doesn’t have much room to maneuver. And now he has to give Tex some rest days for his ailing knee. Sure, the back end of the pen is nasty, but an aging, inflexible lineup plus a mediocre starting staff does not equal championships.
Teixeira ($22.5), Beltran ($15), and Chapman ($11.5) come off the books after the season. CC could also be gone if the Yankees buy him out for $5 million. The fool A-Rod and his $20 million come off. They still have plenty of long term money tied up in long term contracts that will probably produce diminishing returns in guys like Ellsbury and McCann, but they’ll be in a much better place when guys start coming off the books at the end of the season. Isn’t it obvious that now the time to get rid of some tradeable assets and try to retool for next year? I’m not talking about a major reconstruction, just getting a few prospects and draft picks for guys that are leaving soon anyway? Surely we can get something of value for Chapman, Beltran, and maybe even Miller? They might want to keep Miller, as he is signed through 2018 and still lights out, but if the price is right they should consider it. Betances looks like he can be the closer. Hell, I would give away Chapman to a team that agreed to take A-Rod. Unlikely, I know, but a guy can dream.
The fan base won’t be happy, but Brian “Big Bucks” Cashman needs do the right thing.
There’s my two cents, please toss yours in below and come back tomorrow for my pal Different Matt, a man who ruined his prime playing softball. And please follow us on Twitter – @BenWhit8 & @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts. Thank you.