Are the Yankees truly a Death Star? A Yankees’ Corey Kluber trade scenario that reopens the idea of adding Manny Machado

News broke today from Padres’ reporter Dennis Lin of the Athletic that the San Diego Padres are interested in acquiring Indians’ RHP Corey Kluber. This makes sense as the Padres have a plethora of young talent to deal, but also a strong core of players they can build around. However, there is a twist. The report of the Padres’ interest also included that the Padres would be interested in flipping him for a third baseman to anchor their infield. Kluber would instantly help the Friars, but with his window of solid years left closing, the match is not perfect.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The team that instantly came to mind as a third team for a deal with San Diego and Cleveland was the Reds. The Reds have a franchise third baseman in Eugenio Suarez who slashed .283/.366/.526 in 2018 as he earned his first All-Star appearance. However, they also have infield prospect Nick Senzel in their farm system who the team insists they do not want to part ways with, even for a player of Kluber’s caliber. As a result, there is no imminent deal between these two ball clubs. The Indians’ desire to trade a starter as an effort to reduce payroll has died down after trading away Edwin Encarnacion, but if they are still persistent in trading one of Kluber or Trevor Bauer before spring training, the Padres need to find another team who would be willing to part ways with a third baseman the Padres could insert into their everyday lineup.

Here is where the “Fully Operational Death Star” comes in. The Yankees front office seems content with their roster as it stands right now. They have been rumored to want one more relief pitcher, but other than that the heat of the Yankees’ hot stove has been focused on who they are not in the market for rather than who they are pursuing. If Brian Cashman truly believes the Yankees are back to their Evil Empire selves, this is a deal that is an absolute no-brainer.

Yankees acquire: RHP Corey Kluber, cash from San Diego (help cover a portion of Kluber’s contract)
Padres acquire: 3B Miguel Andujar, RHP Sonny Gray, Top-30 Yankees Prospect 
Indians acquire: Padres’ prospects and salary relief

The Padres would not only acquire a third baseman they have long coveted, but also a starting pitcher they have been linked to the point where Jon Heyman included them twice in the list of six teams interested. The Yankees create an elite rotation of Kluber, Paxton, Severino, Tanaka, and Happ and trade from area of depth as they can still feature an infield of DJ LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit, which is more than formidable given the rest of their offense. With Didi Gregorius on the mend and an elite rotation intact, this starting lineup would be more than efficient until Gregorius joins the team and even better when he does inevitably return.

Hypothetical 2019 batting order

DJ LeMahieu 3B
Aaron Judge RF
Aaron Hicks CF
Giancarlo Stanton DH
Gary Sanchez C
Gleyber Torres 2B
Luke Voit/ Greg Bird 1B
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Brett Gardner/ Clint Frazier LF

The order is obviously going to be slightly different as the Yankees have communicated zero intentions of where they plan to place their new acquisitions in the lineup, but the subtraction of Andujar is not a terrible one and will not ruin the lineup’s production.

However, the subtraction does thrust DJ LeMahieu into an everyday role as the starting third baseman, a position he has not played professionally since 2014. This is an unideal situation and could force the Yankees to look for another third base option. Do I even have to say it? 
Photo Credit: NBC Sports

Yes, this would likely be the only scenario in which the Yankees would re-enter the Machado sweepstakes, and it would be foolish of them not to. The White Sox have reportedly not offered Machado a contract longer than seven-years, which would end during Machado’s age-33 season. An age 33-year Machado is a much better bargain than the typical player at the tail-end of a long-term contract, a period that typically is seen for players approaching 40. The Phillies appear to be locked in on a Bryce Harper mega-deal, meaning the Yankees would have no problem swooping in and stealing Machado from the White Sox’s grasp, if they offered him a contract worth his value.

Sure, it is fair to say that what I am suggesting is way too out there for it to have any real credibility. However, why does something that makes so much sense seem so outlandish? The Yankees acquire another ace for a defensive disaster with a plus bat and deal away Gray, while also inking a generational talent who not only hits better than Andujar and is barely three years older in age, but is not even in the same realm as him in terms of defense. This could just be the child in me playing GM on MVP Baseball, but it’s also the fan in me who is sick and tired of seeing Houston and Boston pop bottles, while the Yankees go home with nothing but a “solid regular season.” The biggest rebuttal to my idea is the salary the Yankees would take on with both players, but I believe the Steinbrenners would be more than satisfied with their revenue numbers following the 2019 World Series parade.

Article by: Ryan Thoms


  1. I like this article. There are a couple of things that have been reported differently. Before the Yanks picked up Happ again and after they signed Paxton, it was widely reported that Cashman was looking for TWO more starters, not just one more reliever. So, this lends itself even more to your scenario. As far as Andujar goes, he was probably the most consistent hitter on the team last year...his first year. Machado is definitely a better defender (at 3) and a better HR hitter in 2018, but Andujar gets on base and isn't always swinging for the fence, which MLB seems to be forgetting that having base runners let the HR hitters drive in more runs instead of lots of solo shots. So, Miggy is really valuable in that regard and no one seems to remember Machado's 2017 season. He couldn't hit and I believe was hitting in the low to mid 200s for the season. If he continues like 2018, an uograde at 3B, for sure. I like your scenario, as I have been hoping that talks would begin to heat up again with Kluber. He may not be optimal, but who knows team chemistry effects players, look what Verlander did when he got to Houston from Detroit. Ya never know, getting away from Bauer (interesting, in a weird way) could do him some good.

    One more thing, no way the Yankees picked up LeMahieu for anything more than depth. So again, it lends itself to your theory. Outlets have been saying stuff about the Yanks are signing players for Machado's position (Tulo and LeMahieu). The Yankees don't view Machado as a SS, he is a third baseman, and that's it. Didi IS the SS of the future, Torres is the 2B of the future. The hot corners are the only thing in question ... but Voit is signed until 2023 and Bird is signed for 2019. So, that only leaves what they'll decide to do at 3B for the long haul. If they do pick up Machado for 3B, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave him #13.

    Next, Ottovino in the bullpen.

    Last, although Cashman has said there is no way Harper will be playing for the Yankees, that could be positioning. What do you think of the Yankees picking up Harper and putting him in center field (didn't he play there during the all star game?) and then trading both Hicks, Frazier and Montgomery for a haul of prospects to beef up the farm system. While at the same time keeping Ellsbury on the DL so they can collect 75% of his salary from insurance, shopping him and convincing him to waive his NTC, or using him as depth. Yanks would have Judge, Gardy, Stanton, Harper and Ellsbury. That's doable! Worst case the put Wade or LeMahieu out there like they did with Walker (I didn't like that idea but that's the wat they went. Whadya think?

  2. Good article - the only catch is whether the Indians would be satisfied with what you suggest, but I would welcome Kluber with open arms!


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