If the Yankees sell, which players could they end up dealing?

With the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Yankees front office of general manager Brian Cashman, team president Randy Levine, and owner Hal Steinbrenner are in a power struggle. While Cashman wants the team to sell and get younger, Levine and Steinbrenner want this team to make a playoff push (most likely to sell tickets and make money), and buy at the deadline. However, at 49-47, seven games behind Boston in the AL East and five and a half out of the second wild card spot behind Toronto, it looks as though the Yankees are better off playing for 2017 and beyond. So with that, let’s take a look at potential trade bait players for the New York Yankees if they do become sellers.
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The No-Brainers:
Players under the ‘No-Brainers’ section are players that, in my mind, will be traded no matter the extent of how dramatic the Yankees sell-off is. Whether Yankees decide to have an absolute fire sale, or just deal a few players, you can kiss the ‘No-Brainers’ goodbye. For the purpose of this article, the two players in this category are in contract years, and it makes all the sense in the world to part ways with these proven veterans.

Aroldis Chapman
Set to become a free agent at the end of the season, the Yankees would be foolish to not trade fireball closer Aroldis Chapman to a contending team. The 2016 trade deadline is being referred to as a “seller’s market” so the Yankees need to get the largest return possible. Keep in mind, the Yankees acquired Chapman this offseason from Cincinnati at an incredibly cheap price (mid-level prospects Rookie Davis and Eric Jagielo, and low-ceiling prospects Tony Renda and Caleb Cotham), but his value has increased dramatically since then due to the scarcity of electric talent available on the market. The Yankees can control the market for elite closers as they have two at their disposal. Chapman has been one of the most exciting pitchers in baseball since his return on May 9. Chapman has converted 20 of 21 save opportunities with a 2.15 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports
If it comes down to a bidding war with contending teams, expect the Yankees to part ways with the lefty who just hit 105 MPH on the radar gun the other night to the team that gives the best offer. And even if they do trade Chapman by the deadline, do not rule out the possibility of the Yankees pursuing him aggressively and resigning him this offseason.
Possible (Linked) Suitors: Indians, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs, Giants, and more

Carlos Beltran
In his age-39 season, Carlos Beltran made it back to the Midsummer Classic, making his ninth career All-Star game. The Yankees switch hitting outfielder/designated hitter is having his best season in pinstripes, and one of the better years of his Hall of Fame caliber career. To this point, Beltran is hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs, as he has been the best player on the Yankees without a doubt.

With his ability to switch hit, and hit in the clutch, ESPN’s Buster Olney has reported that Beltran may not only be one of the most sought after outfielders on the trade market this summer, but one of the most sought after hitters on the market. Beltran does not move very well in the outfield, which is why a move within the American League makes the most sense so that he can become a full-time DH, but there have been National League teams rumored to have interest willing to sacrifice his lackadaisical defense for his clutch, middle of the order bat. In his career in the postseason, Beltran has hit to a .332/.441/.674 slash line, good for an OPS of 1.115. He also has 16 homers in 52 postseason games, as he is one of the greatest postseason hitters of all-time.
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Keeping all that in mind, Beltran probably will not yield a team’s top-tier prospects, but his bat can lead to plenty of bidding wars for teams looking to win the World Series this year which will drive up his value. Beltran has a limited no-trade clause meaning he has a list of 15 teams of which he can block a trade. Although he has expressed interest in staying with the Yankees, he is certainly open to being traded to a team in a pennant race as he looks to add a World Series ring to his illustrious résumé.
Possible (Linked) Suitors: Indians, Royals, White Sox, Nationals, Giants

The Wild Cards:
Under this section, you will find the ‘Wild Cards’ of the Yankees trade bait players. At this point, the Yankees appear to be holding onto the following players unless they are blown away by an offer. With that said, do not be surprised to see a couple of these Yankee players ultimately traded either at the trade deadline or even this offseason, as it is more than likely that the Yankees receive some offers for these players that are simply too good to turn down.

Andrew Miller
In my mind, Andrew Miller is the best relief pitcher in baseball. The 6’7” swooping left-hander is a matchup nightmare with a fastball in the mid-upper 90’s and a devastating slider. This season, Miller has made 41 appearances out of the bullpen pitching to a 1.49 ERA and 0.73 WHIP. He’s striking out 15 hitters per nine innings pitched with a strikeout to walk ratio 72 strikeouts to seven walks. And better yet, Miller is under team control for two more years of his four year, $36 million contract.
Photo Credit: AP
Although Chapman is technically the closer of the Yankees, Brian Cashman and company would be presenting Miller to other teams as if he is a closer. The Yankees asking price for Miller is reportedly astronomically high as he may bring in a prospect haul including the likes of top young talents such as Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs (although the Cubs reportedly do not want to trade Schwarber), Trea Turner of the Nationals, or others who have been rumored in the Miller sweepstakes. Miller is a wild card because the Yankees have openly stated that they will not trade him unless they are blown away by an offer, which makes sense as there is no pressure to deal Miller like there may be with the Chapman situation. With elite closers at a premium, I have a feeling the Yankees will eventually be blown away with an offer as we creep up on the trade deadline.
Possible Suitors: Indians, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs, Giants, and more

Nathan Eovaldi
The Nathan Eovaldi experience has been a roller coaster ride for Yankees fans this year. During the month of May, Eovaldi was one of the best pitchers in baseball going 5-0 with a 3.25 ERA. But just when Eovaldi looked as though he was turning the corner, he became not so nasty as he was ripped in June going 0-3 with an 8.65 ERA. His struggles ultimately led him to being bounced out of the rotation temporarily. Still, he leads the Yankees in wins with an 8-6 record, and since his demotion to the bullpen, he has allowed just one earned run over 13.0 innings, and one start where he threw 5.1 innings of one-run ball against Baltimore on July 19.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman | USA TODAY Sports
Eovaldi has incredible stuff with his high-90’s fastball, strikeout pitch splitter, and above average slider and curveball. When Eovaldi is on, he has top-line stuff, and that is why the Yankees may get a few calls on the 26-year-old righty. There are many teams out there including the Yankees who believe he will eventually learn to take command over his pitches and become a more than serviceable major league starter.
Possible (Linked) Suitors: Pirates, Cubs

Michael Pineda
The Michael Pineda sweepstakes are rapidly heating up according to multiple reports across baseball. Like Eovaldi, Pineda has also been victimized by an inconsistent season. Pineda could not have gotten off to a worse start going 1-6 in April and May with a 6.94 ERA. He was much better in June across six starts pitching to a 2.75 ERA and 0.97 WHIP where opposing batters hit just .201 against the 6’7” right-hander.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports
Pineda has good stuff and is still young at just 27 (with only 514.1 innings pitched), and that is why interested teams may appear in abundance in the coming weeks. The Yankees have been rumored to be in contact with the Marlins for Pineda’s services, but like Eovaldi, the Yankees will be hard-pressed parting ways with Pineda as they believe he can eventually be a major part of the future of the Yankees. It will almost surely take an overpay to get him.
Possible (Linked) Suitors: Marlins, Cubs, Pirates and probably more

Brett Gardner
It seems like every time the Yankees are involved in trade talks, Brett Gardner’s name is circulating. Yet, the Yankee outfielder is in his ninth season with the club. This season hasn’t been Gardner’s best, as he’s endured a bit of a power outage with his lowest slugging percentage (.366) since his rookie year. He has just six homers, 12 doubles, and two triples, but has successfully stolen 13 of 15 bases.
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Even with his struggles to drive the ball, Gardner is still a hot commodity with his ability to play all three outfield positions, good speed, above average arm and bat, and sneaky pop that comes in streaks. Gardy is notoriously streaky, but that could be a reason the outfielder is traded at the trade deadline. I've personally been expecting Gardner to be traded eventually and if the Yankees sell, this could be the year that the Yankees part ways with their home grown outfielder.
Possible (Linked) Suitors: Indians, Astros, Angels, Nationals, Dodgers, Giants

The Long Shots:
The ‘Long Shots’ of this article are long shots mostly due to their large contracts, or lack of significant interest. However, with their talent levels, anything is possible if the Yankees do become sellers. In order for these players to be traded, a substantial portion of their contracts will more than likely be eaten by the Yankees. As you will read, these players are incredibly valuable to the Yankees but would help clubs in a pennant race. In the end, the likelihood of them being traded is very small.

Brian McCann
Brian McCann is having a solid year behind the plate for the Yankees, but is not quite playing up to his massive contract of $85 million over five years. In both 2014 and 2015, McCann hit .232, and this year, he is hitting .234, but his .339 OBP and .773 OPS are the highest they’ve ever been in pinstripes. Despite not quite playing up to his contract, plenty of teams would welcome the veteran leadership that McCann provides behind the plate and in the clubhouse. The chances of him behind traded are small, but of the ‘Long Shots,’ he may be the most likely to go as he is blocking Yankees number three prospect Gary Sanchez, who is MLB-ready. McCann has been linked to the Rangers potentially bringing back Joey Gallo, though it is unclear whether those talks have legs. If he is traded, the Yankees would be sending a powerful message to the fans that they are all about getting younger.
Possible (Speculative) Suitors: Indians, Rangers, Dodgers
Photo Credit: Anthony Gruppuso | USA TODAY Sports
Jacoby Ellsbury
Let’s make one thing clear: it’s unfair to compare Jacoby Ellsbury to his superstar seven-year deal worth $153 million. Ellsbury is a well above average player playing with a superstar’s contract. If he had a friendlier contact, like Gardner, his name would be flying around in trade rumors. In the event that the Yankees are serious about playing for 2017 and beyond, they will listen to offers on anyone, but in order to deal Ellsbury, they’re going to have to eat a lot of money off that albatross contract.
Possible (Speculative) Suitors: contenders desperate for OF help (WSH, CLE, SF, HOU, etc.)
Photo Credit: Ken Blaze | USA TODAY Sports
Masahiro Tanaka
Trading Masahiro Tanaka did not slip my mind until reading a piece from River Ave Blues the other day. With the shortage of starting pitching available on the trade market, Tanaka would command a large package of prospects. With the Yankees, Tanaka is the clear-cut ace. On most other teams, Tanaka would most likely be the number two option, but would instantly become one of the best number two starting pitchers in all of baseball. With his ace ability (when healthy as he has proved this year by his 7-2 record and 3.00 ERA), the Yankees must entertain calls for Tanaka. He has an opt out clause after next season which he will take if he puts together another season like this one which hurts his value, but that should not limit the return on him too much. As RAB points out, Jeff Samardzija was traded from Chicago to Oakland in 2014 after a strong first half for a prospect package led by current All-Star shortstop Addison Russell. If Samardzija and the Cubs received that large of a return, Tanaka should be able to call on some top prospects as well.
Possible (Speculative) Suitors: Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, Rangers
Photo Credit: Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports
CC Sabathia
I think I speak on behalf of all Yankee fans when I say that I had no idea what to expect from CC Sabathia in 2016. Coming off three straight disappointing seasons, including a shortened season due to placing himself into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic, there were no expectations for Sabathia this year. Despite that, Sabathia has been one of the most serviceable number five starters in all of baseball. Sure, he’s an expensive number five starter, but his 4.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and .256 BAA are very respectable for the aging 36-year-old. His dominance of hitters in May where he went 2-2 with a 1.04 ERA opened eyes and led the Yankees to receiving some calls on the former ace. Out of the 'Long Shot' bunch, Sabathia is probably the least likely to be traded, but there has been some rumored interest.
Possible Suitors: Blue Jays (scouted CC), and more
Photo Credit: Anthony Gruppuso | USA TODAY Sports
Ivan Nova
This next start for Ivan Nova should be very telling to executives across baseball as to just what Nova can bring to a contending team. Since re-entering the rotation, Nova has gone 6-4 with an underwhelming 4.88 ERA. Inconsistencies has plagued Nova’s season and his career but he’s allowed just one earned run in two of his last three starts. He’s scheduled to make a start on Saturday against the one of the National League’s best teams in the San Francisco Giants. In a contract year, if Nova puts together another strong outing, he could propel himself into the ‘Wild Card’ category.
Possible Suitors: TBD
Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II | AP
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez
No, they are not trade candidates. However, there is an outside possibility that the Yankees would consider straight up cutting Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez following the trade deadline if they do end up having a fire sale according to Jon Heyman. 

This move would send shockwaves to baseball as they would be getting rid of two guys who anchored their lineup for a very long time. Releasing Teixeira would make sense for the Yankees as he is already in a contract year, so the financial hit would not be very drastic. It would also give a guy like Ike Davis or Chris Parmelee (when he returns from injury) a chance to showcase their abilities until the end of the season. On the other hand, it would also show a commitment to young prospects such as the surging Tyler Austin, who can play 1B, 3B, LF, and RF, as well as the long forgotten Greg Bird, who showed incredible poise in his stint with New York last season and will look to come back strong in 2017 as the every day first baseman.

With the case of Rodriguez, the Yankees would be sacrificing the financial hit in order to rid themselves of a guy who has quite frankly been a headache for them during the past couple seasons. Rodriguez’s 2015 campaign was shocking to say the least. But the issues many thought might catch up to him in 2015 are now catching up to him in 2016. Rodriguez has now been regulated to a full time designated hitter – and a platoon role at that. Regardless of his interest in playing the field, that just isn’t happening for the soon to be 41-year-old. 
Photo Credit: Jim Rogash | Getty Images
Now, Rodriguez cannot catch up to fastballs in the mid-90s, and he cannot hit right-handed pitching (.193 AVG vs. righties and .246 AVG vs. lefties). A-Rod is owed $20 million in 2017, but if the Yankees are truly looking to field a younger and exciting team in 2017, they will take the financial hit head-on and cut ties with the former superstar. It would not be the finish to his career that Rodriguez envisioned, but at this point in his career, it would be a necessary roster move for the long term interest of the New York Yankees.

Despite the report by Heyman, I personally have a hard time believing the Yankees will actually cut ties with Teixeira and Rodriguez. But as the vibe that you should have gotten from this article goes, anything is possible if the Yankees do commit to being sellers, so I will not be blown away in the event that it does happen. At the same time, the Yankees are more than likely going to ride out Teixeira’s final season with the club, and make a decision on Rodriguez in the offseason.

Conclusion:
There comes a point in time where the fans, and front office have to accept the New York Yankees for the team that they are. In the decade of the 2000’s, the team was a perennial contender, which is why they were consummate trade deadline buyers. But at this point in time, Levine and Steinbrenner have to concede to Cashman’s requests to sell-off at the trade deadline, and field a competitive, young, and exciting team in 2017. I would like to sit here and write that the Yankees should go all-in and compete for championship number 28 in 2016, but we’ve seen this team struggle to get to the .500 mark and maintain a winning streak all season long. To the Yankees front office, you have one job, and that job is to sell.

Article by: Chad Raines
Follow me on twitter @Chad_Rain
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