Like it or not, the Yankees will be forced to trade from their SP depth

As we close in on the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline on July 31st, it's about that time of year where we start analyzing potential trade targets as well as which prospects might be on the move as part of those deals.  Our own Maxx Hotton recently completed a series of pieces in which he previewed potential trade packages for Jacob deGromCole Hamels, JA Happ, and Madison Bumgarner.  However, the trade deadline (as well as the weeks immediately following the conclusion of the World Series) are also a time for teams to starting thinking about future roster constructions and get their 40-man rosters in shape. 

Left to Right: Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Dillon Tate
Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

This year, the Yankees have a huge dilemma on their hands as a number of their top-rated pitching prospects will be Rule 5 Draft eligible should they still be within the organization and not on the Yankees' 40-man roster.  Such names include, but are not limited to: Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Dillon Tate & Erik Swanson.  Essentially, the Yankees have too much pitching depth to possibly hold onto everyone next year. It's a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. 

If you'll remember, the Yankees had a similar issue last year when they needed to add Gleyber TorresAlbert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Thairo Estrada, Billy McKinney and Jonathan Loaisiga to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft.  The process of getting these players added went all the way back to July of 2017, when the Yankees first traded away Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and Tyler Clippard in the deal for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.  Less than a week later, Rob Refsnyder was traded to Toronto, Branden Pinder was released and then Dietrich Enns and Zack Littel were traded to Minnesota for Jaime Garcia. The purge of excess minor-league depth continued on July 31st in the big deal for Sonny Gray, as James Kaprelian, Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler were shipped to Oakland.  Finally, in November, the Yankees traded Nick Rumbelow to Seattle, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith to Miami, and Ronald Herrera to Texas. 

Cashman later traded for Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins and traded away both Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to San Diego, but the master plan was fulfilled. The Yankees were able to rid themselves of veteran contracts that no longer served any purpose as well as hold onto their top prospects. All the while, they were also able to shape their roster for the upcoming season by cutting the excess pieces they would have lost otherwise for nothing via the Rule 5 Draft.  In addition, they were able to add long-term pieces in Stanton, Robertson, Kahnle & Gray. 

Albert Abreu; Photo Credit: AP

Fast forward to this year and the Yankees again face the daunting reality that they simply cannot hold onto all of their pieces, specifically pitchers. The starting rotation currently consists of Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Domingo German, Gray & Loaisiga, with Masahiro Tanaka due off the disabled list soon, and Jordan Montgomery due off the 60-day DL in the offseason (the CBA states any player on the 60-day DL must be returned to the 40-man roster no later than the fifth day after the completion of the World Series).  Only Sabathia isn't under contract next season among this group, leaving six starting pitcher spots already occupied on the 40-man roster. Add in Sheffield, Adams, Tate, Swanson, Josh Rogers as well as Luis Cessa and the aforementioned Abreu and Acevedo and you have 14 total starting pitcher spots occupied on a 40-man roster, a figure that is simply way too high. 

Of New York's top 30 prospects, 22 are pitchers, so the organization has plenty of depth to work from.  Due to the logjam, the Yankees absolutely will need to trade some of these pieces, either at next month's trade deadline, or at the outset of the 2018-19 offseason.  The Yankees, of course, want to bolster their current roster by trading for another starting pitcher as well as another left-handed reliever, so the necessary moves might happen sooner rather than later.  My guess is the most likely pieces moved are Adams, Rogers, or Swanson.   Further down the system, last year's first two picks Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer might also be in play in trade talks, as could Freicer Perez who dazzled with the Charleston RiverDogs last year but has stalled out a bit this year in single-A Tampa.

Luis Medina; Photo Credit: Robert M. Pimpsner

With up and coming 19-year-old prospect Luis Medina still Rule 5 safe, the Yankees can afford to part with some of their more advanced prospects, and I just don't see guys like Adams and Rogers making long-term MLB impacts.  A guy like Albert Abreu might fetch a nice return as well and my guess is the only prospect New York views as untradeable is Sheffield, unless of course he's part of a package for a deGrom or Bumgarner.  

At the end of the day, roster management is way trickier than you or I can possibly fathom and so it'll be interesting to see what Cashman and his staff have planned for the next three-to-five months.  The only thing that is certain is that moves will be made that will completely catch us by surprise, but they'll all be in the best interest of this franchise as they attempt to build another dynasty in the coming seasons.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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