The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and as has become the "Yankee Way," Brian Cashman and the Yankees' front office made a couple of minor moves without pulling off a blockbuster deal.
Cashman made two small upgrades to his first-place team's roster, acquiring outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar on July 23, and acquiring infielder Casey McGehee from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Chad Qualls just before Tuesday's deadline.
Both deals are low-risk, medium- to high-upside moves that made sense. But the best moves the Yankees made at this year's trade deadline are the trades Brian Cashman did not make.
July 23, Yankees acquire OF Ichiro Suzuki, Grade: A-
This was a prudent move for the Yankees.
After finding out the Brett Gardner would miss the duration of the season due to elbow surgery, the Yankees were looking at playing the final two months and the postseason with Raul Ibanez (40) and Andruw Jones (35) forming a platoon in left field.
Both players have done well in that role so far this season, but it's questionable whether either would be able to keep up their performance for two more months at their ages. Neither has any speed, either.
So the Yankees traded for Ichiro, a 38-year-old outfielder who, at worst, comes relatively cheaply and gives the Yankees superb outfield play and the speed element they were lacking. At best, he is a dynamic offensive player who started his career with 10 200-hit seasons and seven times led the American League in hits.
This is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward trade.
July 31, Yankees acquire 1B/3B Casey McGehee, Grade: A-
This is another deal that comes with absolutely no risk and some upside, albeit not as much upside as the Ichiro trade gave the Yankees.
First is the cost. The Yankees gave up Chad Qualls, a reliever who was about to be designated for assignment as soon as Joba Chamberlain was ready to come off the DL. Chamberlain was supposed to make one more rehab appearance, but was instead activated Tuesday after the trade. So, in essence, the Yankees gave up about two days of Chad Qualls' services.
McGehee has played primarily at first base with the Pirates this year, but has also been the Brewers' regular third baseman in the past. He's not good at the hot corner, but is serviceable.
He doesn't hit for average; he's a career .260 hitter with a .316 on-base percentage. But he does have eight homers in 265 at-bats and his career high was 23 home runs in 2010.
I'm skeptical about how much the Yankees will get out of McGehee, especially since A-Rod will come back eventually and probably take McGehee's roster spot regardless of his performance, but they gave up virtually nothing. It was a good deal to make.
Overall Grade: A
At the end of the day, though, the Yankees did well at this year's trade deadline because they did not trade any of their top prospects for a player they did not need.
Yes, the Yankees have been slumping. But they still have the best record in the American League and will almost assuredly win the AL East.
The offense is solid, and they made a deal to improve on their main weaknesses in left field and lack of speed. Russell Martin has had a terrible season, but there weren't many catchers on the market significantly better than Martin.
Many fans were clamoring for the Bombers to make a deal for Cliff Lee, or Ryan Dempster or another elite starting pitcher. While a deal for a top starting pitcher would have been nice, the Yankees' rotation has been excellent this year, and fans should be confident with CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and probably Phil Hughes as the team's rotation heading into the playoffs.
Brian Cashman held on to Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and all of the team's top prospects for the future, and he still has the best team in the American League.
The Yankees did well at this year's trade deadline.
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