BBB Weighs in: 2019 MLB Trade Deadline

No matter how you felt about the deadline, it progressed differently than most would have expected, given the Yankees lack of moves. While it is undebatable that this team still has World Series talent, it is still unlike a championship contender to not address its most glaring needs. Here is what our staff had to say about what transpired:

Spencer Schultz: 

An odd trade deadline altogether, I have mixed feelings on the trade deadline. On one hand, I understand not wanting to overpay for starters like Robbie Ray and Zach Wheeler. Wheeler honestly wouldn’t be an upgrade to the current guys the Yankees have and he’s a rental anyways. Ray is a solid pitcher with high K/9, but he is not the type of pitcher that you trade Clint Frazier, Clarke Schmidt, and two more prospects for. Guys like Mike Leake and Tanner Roark would not have put the Yankees over the top either. At that point, I’ll bet on Paxton, Tanaka, and Happ to turn things around.

The Astros trading for Zack Greinke is also quite frustrating, forming a lethal trio in their rotation, but there’s nothing Brian Cashman could’ve done about that. With that all being said, I still believe the Yankees should have made a move for a reliever and/or starter Marcus Stroman. It was reported that after the Mets acquired him, they wanted Deivi Garcia and Estevan Florial in order to send him to the Bronx. If that was indeed the case, I would have done that. I get that those are two of the Yankees’ top 2 prospects, but the chances Garcia ends up being the quality of pitcher Stroman is uncertain, and Florial is still years away from helping the big league team.

I know the Yankees want to win for years to come, but let’s also focus on winning now. As for the reliever part, Ken Giles or perhaps a Will Smith would have been nice. Giles’ asking price was also probably low as well due to his current elbow injury. In the end, I can’t get too mad at Cashman after all of the moves he’s made in the past to improve this team, but I can’t help but wonder if we will look back to this deadline and regret not making a move if the Yankees fail to win the World Series this season. 

Ryan Thoms: 

For the most part, I agree with what Spencer said above. With many teams still within reach of the playoffs and the removal of August trades, most teams opted to keep their player in hopes of making it into the postseason. This created a very scarce market and resulted in very high asking prices for top-flight players, like Zack Greinke. The Yankees technically did make a splash. They acquired Edwin Encarnacion earlier in the summer for virtually nothing, which looks genius after seeing Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton hampered by injuries, even thought Encarnacion himself is unfortunately hurt. They also added a minor league pitcher named Alfredo Garcia in exchange for reliever Joe Harvey, who was up and down between Scranton in the Bronx. 

With all that being said, I am still nowhere near satisfied with the deadline. I’m not mad at Brian Cashman. It is not like he pulled a Dave Dombrowski, with the Red Sox bullpen this past offseason, and failed to acknowledge a team’s glaring weakness. He tried hard to acquire an upgrade for the Yankees struggling rotation, but he ultimately was not able to find a top-tier starter in an already bare market for a reasonable price, i.e. not Gleyber Torres. Also, I agree with many people’s opinions that a mid-tier starter like a Tanner Roark would have been redundant to the pitchers the team already has. The only thing I could maybe put on Cashman was not adding a reliever just to improve the staff as a whole, but upgrading the bullpen would have been more of a luxury rather than a necessity. 

All in all, I am glad Brian Cashman did not fall for the ridiculous requests of other teams, but it still makes me uneasy to know the Yankees are likely to face a rotation of Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole, and an improved Wade Miley, come October. Yankee fans just need to pray that Betances and Severino return to the team ready to contribute, and that stud-prospect Deivi Garcia is up to the task if his name is called. The Yankees also need James Paxton, JA Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka to step up their game. 

Grade: C

Matt Graziano: 

While the Yankees maybe didn't address their need for a starting pitcher at the deadline, I'm not that mad about it and I'm certainly not going to blame Brian Cashman. Cashman was engaged on all fronts trying to find trade options but it seems the asking prices were way too high. Some people will accuse him of "prospect hugging" but I think this is a silly accusation. The Diamondbacks asked for Clint Frazier, Clarke Schmidt and 2 others for Robbie Ray who is ok but not a clear upgrade. Marcus Stroman was traded for 2 non top 100 prospects and the Mets then asked for the Yankees #1 and 2 prospects to flip him to the Yankees. When teams ask you for something and then don't ask that of their eventual partner, it's not your fault. 

I respect Cashman for refusing to pay top dollar for average or worse return. The Yankees need pitching help but average arms who can throw enough innings to get them through the rest of the regular season don't really help in the playoffs (see Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia). Their current starters need to and likely will pitch better than they have recently. The Yankees are clearly betting on healthy returns from Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, maybe even the debut of Deivi Garcia. If those don't pan out, there may be trouble but the Yankees are still a very good baseball team and their biggest focus from now until the playoffs should be getting as many players as possible fully healthy. If they can manage that, we may still see that Death Star Cashman was talking about. 

It’s hard not to just repeat what everyone else has said because not much happened, and I agree with pretty much everything mentioned previously. The asking prices for some of those pitchers were quite frankly absurd, and credit to Brian Cashman for not being too aggressive and making a bad deal. Now the onus is on guys like Luis Severino and Dellin Betances to come back and be effective. Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi Garcia could also be factors as the season wears on. One thing I would criticize the Yankees for is not using their greatest advantage and most plentiful resource enough. Their financial power gives them a leg up that a lot of teams don’t have, and while I realize that a lot of the money they make goes back into the scouting and analytics departments to make the team better, I think that they could stand to flex just a little more of their financial muscles this off-season. What I’m saying is, make a serious run at Gerrit Cole in the offseason. The Yankees are still positioned very well thanks to their great first half, and I think the pitching woes will subside for the most part as guys round back into form. 

As the deadline neared, it seemed as many Yankee fans were starting to accept the idea that there was just no one out there for the right price, and then Houston acquired Zack Greinke. The walls came down in Yankee Universe, and the calls for Cashman's job and to end the season started to rain down. 

The trade deadline was disappointing, as the start of the season projected into some dangerous aces possibly making their way to the Bronx. However, the Max Scherzers, Noah Syndergaards, and Madison Bumgarners of the world, just weren't available. Instead, Brian Cashman had to navigate through the likes of Marcus Stroman, Zach Wheeler, and Robbie Ray. On the surface, these moves were better than what we had at least at the bottom of our rotation, but the reported prices were outlandish. 

As disappointing as it was, not to add a game-changing pitcher, there wasn't one to add that would make a difference in October. First off Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner had a no-trade clause, and were not coming to New York. Second, was Robbie Ray's bottom of the league walk and home run rate something we need for the price of Gleyber Torres or a Clint Fraizer/Deivi Garcia/others package? As for Stroman, personally that hurt, but Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial, and others was a price too high to add another name to the rotation. 

Looking forward, the Yankees didn't mortgage their future just for a chance in 2019. Let's be realistic, if you think the Greinke addition is the do all end all, would Marcus Stroman and Robbie Ray really change the tide? I don't think so. This team has to hope that Luis Severino comes back healthy most importantly and hope Tanaka and Paxton can figure out their midseason woes. Rolling into October with a four-person rotation of Severino German Tanaka and Paxton backed by this lineup and bullpen is a pretty good look for 2019.

Overall, Cashman didn't have much to work with, and standing pat was likely a better idea than to grossly overpay for a midline starter. 

Grade B-

John Messina: 

When I wrote TradingClint Frazier to an AL East rival would be a mistake, I genuinely believed Clint was as good as gone come July 31.  It was just a matter of where he was going to be traded.  It makes little sense to me that he is still a Yankee, frankly.  I feel as the club may be doing themselves a disservice by not trading an asset at his peak value.  In hindsight, knowing that it may have very well been Stroman or no one, I think I would have pulled the trigger on the trade.  As I previously mentioned, Stroman was my favorite pitcher that was rumored to be dealt.  

With that being said, I don’t view this trade deadline as a failure.  I scroll through Twitter and I see fans up in arms about how the Yankees failed and it doesn’t make sense to me.  Brucie from The Longest Yard got online and posted an irreverent video screaming “We’re F***ed!”  as if the world was ending.  Let’s calm down, huh?

I still like the starting staff.  Is it the best in the majors? No, of course not.  But can it be serviceable in conjunction with a dynamic, power-hitting club and an exceptional bullpen?  I think so.  I have a few worries with Severino, but if he comes back fully healthy, a rotation featuring him Tanaka, German, and Paxton is a fine rotation.  Perhaps I’m more relaxed because I have a ton of faith in the bullpen, especially some of the chunk guys like Nestor Cortes and Luis Cessa. 

The Astros landing Grienke sucks. There’s no sugar coating that, but overall, I’m content.  I’m pleased Cashman didn’t panic and chase a player that doesn’t move the needle all that much.  If nothing else, this could be a sign of confidence from Cashman that he believes in the talent of the club and the rehabilitation of the members of his pitching staff.

Grade: B-

Mary Grace Donaldson: 

I went into this trade deadline wanting the Yankees to have their cake, and eat it, too -- and that’s perhaps why I was a bit disappointed in the results. I agree with Ryan above in that a bullpen upgrade would be a luxury more than a necessity, but a new member of the starting rotation felt like a necessity. 

With Madison Bumgarner’s free agency looming over the heads of the San Francisco Giants, the possibility of the Yankees “renting” Bumgarner (a la Andrew McCutchen last year) felt the most likely.  The Giants were not expected be contenders entering the 2019 season, but found themselves in the thick of the race at the deadline.  It could be assumed that they would look ahead to next season and trade away Bumgarner in exchange for multiple Yankees prospects, but they chose to try to compete in what could be his last season in their uniform.  The Yankees' major league talent, such as, Gleyber Torres, was off-limits, and this made a lot of teams less willing to trade with the Yankees.

The Yankees will have to hold their collective breath and hope for a speedy return for Severino (which seems like it could happen sooner rather than later), but in the knowledge that he’ll be back, I can understand Brian Cashman’s thought process.  I also applaud him for not giving up a home-grown Yankee, who will see many more impressive years in the Bronx.  All of the above said, Boone may need to continue to utilize the bullpen in an opener capacity, especially when the starting rotation is lacking due to injuries or inconsistency. 

However, the biggest news of the trade deadline didn’t come out of the Bronx -- but it will certainly affect the Yankees, in the regular season and most likely, in a potential postseason.  I was driving at 3:45 pm on 7/31, listening to WFAN for any updates, but also listening to the Yankees vs. Diamondbacks game.  At 3:50, I made a stop and came back into the car to find my phone lit up with notifications announcing that Zack Greinke had been traded.  The Yankees already have a difficult time hitting Justin Verlander.  The offense will have to step up tremendously in order to defeat the Astros’ rotation of Verlander/Cole/Greinke -- and that said, it’s a really good thing the Yankees still have Torres. 

Grade: C 

Mark Ciano: 

I think it is safe to say no one saw this deadline coming. Two of the best players to change franchises went to teams with records below .500 in Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the Yankees and Red Sox both did nothing in the days leading up to the deadline, and the Astros made a last second deal for Grienke. Most people, myself included, were pretty shocked to see the deadline come and go without Cashman striking a deal and although that is disappointing, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a mistake.

Cashman and his staff have proven to be trustworthy so if he says he wasn’t close to making any deals I believe sellers were asking for way too much (Gleyber Torres for Matt Boyd/ Clint Frazier, Clarke Schmidt and two others for Robbie Ray, for example ) and it was the right decision to put faith in the current roster. What I will say is now that we know no reinforcements are coming the only way the Yankees can bring home number 28 is if the entire pitching staff steps up. Tanaka needs to pitch like the ace he’s been in his previous postseasons, Paxton needs to figure things out and get back to being the pitcher he was in Seattle, Happ needs to pitch like he did after the Yankees acquired him from Toronto last season, and we need to hope German’s innings limit doesn’t prevent him from contributing in the playoffs. The bullpen will need to be the best in the league, which they are more than capable of, and while we didn’t add from outside the organization if Severino and Betances can get back before October that would be a huge boost to this pitching staff, bigger than any move that could’ve been made. So overall, I wish the Yankees were able to add to the roster but it’s not the end of the world, it’s up to the current roster to prove that Cashman made the right decision and find a way to get the job done. 

So while it’ll be tough to face Houston and their three headed monster of Verlander- Cole-Grienke this wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees took down a great rotation at the beginning of a dynasty (Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz in 1996). Also, now that it is pretty safe to say Houston will have a better rotation than the Yankees come playoff time, I find it even more important for the Yanks to finish the year strong and get the best record in the AL. We’ve seen Houston struggle in New York and likewise the Yankees have struggled in Houston so that will be a huge factor and something to watch the second half of the season.
Grade: C+

Dustin Miles: 

It’s the morning of July 31, the day Yankees fans and fans around the league are waiting for, the Trade Deadline. Notifications are on, iPhone volume as high as it can possibly go, waiting. Hours pass as I anxiously sit and pace hoping for the Yankees to make the big deadline move Brian Cashman is known for, this year for a new horse for the rotation for a deep postseason run, similar to the Happ trade last year. Time is flying by, but creeping as slow as a snail at the same time. The clock strikes 4 PM and I take one last look at my phone only to see “Breaking: Astros acquire Zack Greinke from D-Backs,” my heart sinks.

My emotions were all over the place post deadline. On one hand, I was disappointed Cashman could not pull of a trade, uncharacteristically. But, I was also ecstatic Cash didn’t pull the trigger on a deal that Yankees fans could possibly look back on with complete disgust in the future. After Marcus Stroman was dealt to the Mets and Trevor Bauer to the Reds, the Yankees hands were tied with limited options at starting pitching. Madison Bumgarner was still there, but San Francisco made it clear days before the deadline they were not interested in moving him. A great K/9 man with low homerun numbers in Robbie Ray was still available, but personally, I don’t believe a move for him changes the tide for the Bombers all that much. In the last couple hours of the deadline, reports came about saying the Yankees were attempting to make a move to bullster the bullpen with a player like Ken Giles, most likely as a backup after all teams were asking too high for starters in Cashman’s eyes.

Though the Yankees did not make that enormous move all fans were waiting for, this does not kill their chances of holding the Commissioner’s Trophy come seasons end. The addition of Greinke to the Astros rotation does make that team much more intimidating on top of what they already have in Verlander, Cole, and an improved Wade Miley, but hitting these guys is something I see that Yankees lineup from top to bottom fully capable of handling. The biggest need for the Bombers is for Tanaka to play like postseason Tanaka, Severino to come back looking like his normal self, and for Paxton, German, and Happ to show up when it matters most. Though the lack of a deadline move was upsetting, I fully believe in Cashman, and if the right move isn’t there, don’t make one at all.

Grade: B-


  1. No discussion of why the Yankees are in this spot with a joke rotation to begin with.


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