New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has taken significant heat this winter from two key sources of the Pinstripes' fan base.
The first camp wants to see the Yankees make a huge splash in free agency. The second camp wants to see Cashman stay the course by home growing prospects and getting below the luxury tax.
Perhaps one monster deal with the Houston Astros, would help Cashman please both sides of the aisle.
Understand that this possible trade would not come until mid-season, and would depend largely on the progress Alex Rodriguez makes with his surgically-repaired hip.
It also takes into account that the Yankees have a few talented outfield prospects who may very well make the club right out of spring training.
In this admittedly speculative trade, the Yankees would ship Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Brett Gardner (or a player to be named later) to Houston.
For the Astros, this would instantly bolster a lineup that needs all the help it can get to compete in the AL West in 2013.
In exchange, the Yankees would receive a few specific players from Houston. These players will not only help the Yankees get younger, but it could also help this team find a balance between staying competitive and meeting frugal financial obligations.
Premier Astros shortstop prospect Carlos Correa would be the big centerpiece of a possible trade between the Yankees and Astros.
Just 18 years old, Correa was selected by Houston first overall in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, per ESPN.
A terrific infielder, Correa projects to score between 20 and 30 home runs per year and become a superstar in the big leagues, once he fully matures.
Correa also idolizes Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
“I want to be like [Jeter],” Correa said in a post-draft interview with ESPN. “He’s awesome.”
Correa also shares Jeter’s ambition. After reaching a deal with the Astros last June, Correa told MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart the following:
I'm just happy to be an Astro right now, and I just want to get to the big league level as quickly as I can. I want to be a leader and want to be the face of franchise. I will work hard to be great player, an impact player.
Perhaps it was Correa’s Puerto Rican accent, but notice the word “this” between “of” and “franchise” is missing.
Imagine a scenario where Correa receives mentorship from his childhood hero on how to physically and mentally prepare to play shortstop every day for the most successful baseball team in history.
Not to mention that should Correa live up to his high billing, the Yanks may finally resolve the grand enigma regarding Jeter’s heir apparent.
The Yankees' getting Correa may seem far-fetched. But as idealistic as this may sound, this guy just looks and feels like the perfect fit for the Bronx.
Second in this trade package is 26-year-old corner infielder Brett Wallace.
Currently, Wallace is listed as the starting first baseman on the Astros depth chart. He also serves as the back up at third base to Matt Dominguez.
Backing up Wallace at first base is newly-signed slugger Carlos Pena.
While not the best for-average hitter in his three-year MLB career, this left-handed batter does have 63 home runs in 232 games.
While many experts think Wallace is on the verge of busting out for Houston, the jury is out because he has yet to play a full season.
But what makes Wallace unique is that he can play both third and first base. This gives the Yankees flexibility with both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, should one become injured or need a day off.
Wallace could also DH, which would give Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi more flexibility with his lineup.
The Yankees could infuse youth and improve depth at the first base position by also including under-the-radar slugger Nate Freiman in the deal.
Freiman, 26, is No. 19 on Houston’s top prospect list, per MiLB.com.
At 6'7" and 225 lbs, Freiman is not only physically imposing, but he has been consistent throughout his minor league career.
In 483 minor league games, Freiman has batted .294 (551 for 1,876) with 71 home runs and 368 RBI. He also boasts a terrific .364 OBP/.502 SLG/.847 OPS.
Freiman enjoyed his best year in 2012 when he hit .298 with 23 homers and 105 RBI for the San Antonio Missions (Double A).