The Yankees are off to a hot start in 2013, posting an 18-12 record over the season's first 30 games. That they stand in second place in the AL East is made even more impressive when you consider the fact that Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis have missed most or all of the month with injuries.
The offense has been patched together by a series of smart moves by Brian Cashman to acquire veteran players to fill specific roles on the team. Travis Hafner has been great playing only designated hitter, Lyle Overbay has had some big hits as a first baseman and Vernon Wells, Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco have all had time in the outfield.
At some point, though, there's a good chance these veterans' performances will regress. With major questions about when Jeter, Teixeira and Granderson will come back, as well as how well they will perform when they do, here are four trades Brian Cashman should consider pursuing.
Helton is not close to the player he once was. He's aged and has injury problems, but he is a low-risk option for the Yankees if Mark Teixeira's wrist injury keeps him out for much more of the season.
Activated yesterday from the disabled list, Helton is hitting .268 with one home run and 10 RBI in 13 games. He had suffered a strained forearm.
He's signed for just $5 million this season and then will be a free agent, so if the Rockies fall out of the race and want to dump salary, the Yankees could be a logical landing spot.
Like Helton, Justin Morneau is another low-risk option for the Yankees at first base if Mark Teixeira is going to miss much more time.
After missing much of 2010 and 2011 with concussion problems, Morneau was able to play 134 games in 2012 and has played in 25 games this season. His power has been diminished (he hit 19 home runs last year and has two this year) but he's still only 31, and perhaps being traded to a contender (and a more hitter-friendly ballpark) would help bring him back to greatness.
And, like Helton, Morneau is in the last year of his contract, so he carries very little risk, although his salary is higher than Helton's (Morneau is making $14 million in 2013).
Like it or not, the Yankees may need to make a move for a shortstop. Derek Jeter's injury is serious and could keep him out at least several more weeks, and Eduardo Nunez left yesterday's game with tightness in his ribcage and may need to go on the disabled list. Jayson Nix is a nice fill-in player, but he's not an every day shortstop.
Yuniesky Betancourt, who was cut by the Phillies towards the end of spring training, has been a surprise in Milwaukee. He's hit seven home runs in 28 games, mostly playing third. But he's been a shortstop for most of his career and could be an option for the Yankees to acquire if the Brewers fall out of contention or are looking for help elsewhere.
For the record, I don't think the Yankees have the pieces to make a competitive offer for Giancarlo Stanton, nor do I think the Marlins would trade him midseason. But, given the rash of injuries and the need for a power hitter, Brian Cashman should at least pick up the phone and ask the Marlins about Stanton.
Stanton was outspoken in his frustration with the organization's path after the Marlins traded Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto, and it's unlikely he would consider re-signing with the organization any time before he hits free agency in 2017.
The Yankees would probably have to include Mason Williams or Tyler Austin (or both), a major pitching prospect or two and another high-level prospect or two to get the deal done. It would be a steep price that would probably be worth it, otherwise the Marlins aren't dealing Stanton.