Brian Cashman Says Yankees Open for Business: Can He Reshape Roster This Summer?
The Yanks are always involved around the trade deadline, but this year the team could be in all the headlines.
Cashman recently talked about his team's early activity due to injury and how that could become even more pronounced as we enter the dog days of summer.
Man, I’ve been active already. I feel like up until recently we’ve been getting a new player in here [often]—they weren’t relatively big splashes, but it just feels like from mid-Spring Training on, we’ve been on overdrive mixing and matching stuff. I’m always open for business, if it feels like they’re incremental upgrades or significant ones.
The opportunity for significant upgrade trades obviously doesn’t usually take place until after the June draft. We’re past that date, so I think the atmosphere should be right about there. Activities in terms of conversations have definitely increased where clubs have turned their attention to, ‘All right, what are you guys looking to do, who do you need, who’s available?’
Every GM is kind of cataloguing the available players and team needs. From that, obviously something can transpire over time with a few more conversations. Listen, because of the injuries that have hit us from the winter and March, we’ve been active and open to try to do something that would make sense for us. I think we’ve done a lot and we’re going to continue to try to do a lot. We’ll see where it takes us.
That's a lot to take in, but it essentially boils down to this: The Yankees are going to be making a lot of trades in June and July.
Entering Monday's action three games out of first place in the AL East and tied for the final Wild Card spot, the Yankees' trades will play a major role in October.
The moves this year will be two-fold, as the team will likely be simultaneously looking to trade talented players and also acquire some big-name guys.
Who the Yankees Will Try to Trade Away
The Yankees aren't a straight buyer this year, as a few guys could be on the move.
The most likely player that the team will trade is former ace Phil Hughes.
The 26-year-old starter has been having a rough year, with an ERA of 4.89 and a WHIP of 1.40. However, he does have 65 strikeouts and 22 walks in just 70.0 innings pitched for a K/9 ratio of 8.4.
As always, Hughes has struggled with the long ball. He has given up a lot of runs on home runs, and hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium doesn't exactly help him.
With Michael Pineda likely coming back sometime in July, Hughes will be pushed out of the starting rotation and onto the trade block.
Trading Phil Hughes to the Giants would make a lot of sense. Despite his high ERA, he actually has the best K/9 of the rotation (8.50) and a BB/9 of 2.33. What has killed him this season, and most of his career, is his home run rate, which is 1.64 and not only the highest on the team, but also top-10 in baseball.
Yankee Stadium is a bad stadium for Phil Hughes to call home, but AT&T Park is much bigger and pitcher-friendly. According to ESPN MLB Park Factors, Yankee Stadium has a home run rate of 1.044 (12th in the league), while AT&T has a rate of 0.757 (26th in the league). He has done well in bigger ballpark—a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings at Safeco Field, 1.32 ERA in 17.2 innings at U.S. Cellular Field, 3.22 ERA in 36.1 innings at Comerica Park and so forth.
According to The International Business Times, Hughes could be one of the first ones on his way out. The Giants have already proven that they are willing to give up top prospects for solid players as they did when acquiring Carlos Beltran, and Cashman might try to take advantage of that.
The other major player who I see leaving New York is Ichiro.
As good as the aging outfielder has been in his career, the plain and simple fact is that he won't be needed when Curtis Granderson comes off the DL, and The Grandy Man will be back well before the deadline, rendering Ichiro useless.
Ichiro still has another good year or two left in him, and teams looking for a contact-hitting outfielder could very well give up a solid prospect or two for him (if they can take on at least a portion of his hefty salary).
Who the Yankees Will Try to Bring in
The Yankees won't be content with getting rid of a few players for prospects, however, as that doesn't help them win right now and contend in tight AL East and Wild Card races.
The team needs big-name players if it is going to combat falling viewership, which means all of the brightest stars on the market will be on the radar.
"I definitely want to win—there’s no doubt about that," Lee said when asked if he wanted to remain in Philly.
And what if the team is still going nowhere fast a month from now?
"I want to win," Lee repeated. 'I don’t know how else to say it besides that. I want to win."
However, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't appear to want to trade Lee, saying:
They're all rumors, and we don't comment on rumors. But I don't see what the benefit would be to our organization to trade [Lee]. There are players we've got who can help us win, and we're better off with them than without them.
People would like us to improve our club, but at what cost? You have to have replacement pieces if you're going to trade someone like that.
If we have [guys like Lee] at the top of our rotation, we're a better club. ... It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I'm concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win.
He doesn't have a "trade-me" clause. So while I understand that he wants to play for a winner, I think we can provide that for him in Philadelphia.
Lee also has a no-trade clause in his contract, which applies to 20 teams, including the Yankees. He also chose Philadelphia over New York when he entered free agency, making Philly seem favorable compared to the Big Apple in his mind.
Let's assume that Lee is out of the mix for now.
The Yanks have quite enough pitching for now, and while outfield depth could become a need, the team will be trying to grab big stars to help its infield.
Robinson Cano remains one of the best second basemen in the game today, but the other three positions could all be trade targets depending on the injury situation.
Speaking of injuries affecting trades, the recent injury to Mark Teixeira could mean that Cashman wants to trade for a replacement.
Tex is likely headed back to the DL with yet another wrist injury.
Mark Teixeira could return to Yankees' disabled list http://t.co/k6Xl71Cv2Q— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 17, 2013
What's worse is that he may not be back this year, as Cashman noted that season-ending surgery is a possibility and is preferable over having him waste a roster spot.
Mark Teixeira's 30 percent chance of season-ending surgery is still in play. Cashman said he'd prefer surgery over having Tex as part-time player.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 17, 2013
Cashman doesn't appear to be all that worried about Teixeira, but hitting coach Kevin Long clearly is, according to ESPN.
Over the weekend, hitting coach Kevin Long said that the wrist injury caused the switch-hitting Teixeira's left-handed swing to lack the "whip and the bat speed you see right-handed." He also said that Teixeira looks like a "shell" of himself.
"I don't think that it's been right since he's been here," Long said.
Cashman said that he would have liked to have heard that from Long before the hitting coach said it to the media.
"It is alarming that K-Long would say that to the group of reporters, but he has never said that prior to that," Cashman said. "This is a lot of times how things work out when things go bad, things get said. If K-Long felt that way, we should have heard that from K-Long, but we never heard that from K-Long.
Even if Cashman is worried, he would likely play off Tex's injury like it was nothing so other GMs couldn't exploit the need for another infielder.
However, Cashman isn't stupid and he knows that he needs another infielder.
Based purely on speculation, some possible targets include Justin Morneau, Chase Headley, James Loney, Paul Konerko and David Murphy.
Morneau will be a free agent at the end of the year, while Loney, Konerko and Murphy would be two-year rentals.
Loney and Headley are the interesting guys to me because, at 29 years old, they are both still pretty young. While they become free agents in 2014 and 2015, respectively, they could both become Yankees for a few years and could help the team in the here and now.
We're going to see a flurry of moves by the Yankees over the next six weeks or so, but we can't label the team as a buyer or a seller since it will be making both kinds of moves.
Cashman is going to have to get creative if he is going to simultaneously make this team younger and still pick up stars to compete right now.
But if there's a GM in MLB that can do it, it's him.
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