5 Moves the New York Yankees Could Have Made at the Trade Deadline
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Annually one of the more exciting events of the MLB season, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline serves as a metaphorical fork in the road for many baseball teams.
To buy or to sell? The New York Yankees were one of a handful of teams that could have made significant trades at the deadline.
Concerns across the infield begin with third base, where the club tried to look past the never-ending saga that is Alex Rodriguez, and extended to the opposite corner, where Lyle Overbay continues to struggle at first base against left-handed pitching.
With a plethora of pitching at his disposal, general manager Brian Cashman was reportedly shopping both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, in an attempt to bolster the outfield, catcher and/or both corner infield positions.
But in the end, only one move was made.
Let's take a look at what could have been.
Michael Young could have provided the Yankees with an experienced right-handed third basemen in the midst of the Alex Rodriguez saga
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With Alex Rodriguez seemingly on his own planet and the injured Kevin Youkilis potentially out for the remainder of the season, third base continues to be an area of great concern for New York general manager Brian Cashman.
So when rumors of the Texas Rangers' Michael Young being dealt to the Yankees began swirling around before the trade deadline last week, several plausible scenarios surfaced.
A career .300 hitter, Young would have been a significant upgrade to the offense in New York, where Yankees' third basemen have hit a combined four home runs and compiled league-worst statistics in nearly every offensive category at the position.
Young would have offered the Yankees another veteran presence in the locker room and flexibility across the infield where he could platoon at first base with Lyle Overbay.
But the pieces never fell into place.
The first obstacle of Young's inclination (or lack thereof) to wave his no-trade clause was conquered following suggestions that he would only accept a deal back to Texas after this season. However, the Yankees weren't able to comprise a suitable package of prospects to please the Philadelphia Phillies.
Perhaps New York was unwilling to part with top prospects in hopes that Youkilis could make a return in 2013. But whatever the case may be, it appears as though Jayson Nix and his 36 career home runs will continue to be the everyday starter at third base once Rodriguez begins his suspension for using banned substances and interfering with the league's investigation into the Biogenesis scandal.
Kendrys Morales might have helped the Yankees improve their struggling power numbers from both sides of the plate
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Perhaps the second greatest area of concern for the Yankees resides at first base, where the 36-year-old Lyle Overbay is filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira, who will miss the rest of the 2013 season.
One name that drew connections to New York prior to the deadline was Kendrys Morales of the Seattle Mariners.
Morales, a 30-year-old switch-hitter certainly isn't going to win a Gold Glove at the corner-infield position, but he could certainly bolster a Yankees offense that has struggled to produce for the 2013 season.
Playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark for a last-place team, Morales has managed to bat .297/.350/.482 for the Seattle Mariners thus far. His 17 home runs and 63 RBI would both rank second on the Yankees' roster at this point, and those totals would only increase in the hitters' paradise that is Yankee Stadium.
Yes, Overbay would likely still be used to give Morales a day off or for defensive purposes in late-game situations. But his inability to reach base against left-handed pitching is something that would be upgraded tremendously with the addition of Morales, who is hitting over .300 against southpaws this year.
A difference in Morales' perceived value between the Yankees and Mariners was evident as the deal failed to advance into serious discussion before the deadline. Most would agree that Brian Cashman was correct to hold onto the farm for the future.
But Morales is still progressing at the age of 30 and would likely see an instant inflation in his numbers in New York.
Now, pending the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, we may never know.
A move for Alex Rios would have given the Yankees another right-handed bat and more flexibility in the outfield
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As Yankees general manager Brian Cashman's search for a right-handed bat pressed on, multiple players. including Alex Rios of the Chicago White Sox, were linked to the Yankees before last Wednesday's trade deadline.
Rios, a nine-year veteran, would certainly have been a viable option in New York's outfield had they not already acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs.
Not surprisingly, His .278 career batting average and above-average defensive tools emerged as a possible trade target as the last-place White Sox began to look toward their future.
According to a report from SB Nation, Chicago was expecting any potential trade partners to take on the remainder of the $12.5 million owed to Rios for the rest of this season in addition to the $12.5 million he will be due in 2014.
Such a demand undoubtedly made Soriano a more attractive target for the Yankees, who continue to shed payroll in an attempt to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
The Cubs will pay most of Soriano's salary, leaving New York on the hook for less than $7 million through the 2014 season.
Michael Morse has struggled in Seattle after posting career numbers in Washington a season ago
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After being linked to a deal involving the Yankees during the offseason in an ESPN New York report, Michael Morse's bat again became a subject of interest around New York just prior to the deadline.
A tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post revealed that although serious talks never surfaced, the Yankees were eyeing Morse in the final hours of July.
Like his teammate Kendrys Morales, Morse has provided a last-place Seattle team with sufficient right-handed production while healthy in 2013. In 62 games this season, the former Washington National is hitting .245 with 12 HR and 26 RBI.
A cheaper option than Rios and Soriano, Morse may have required more in terms of young talent from the Yankees.
Given that general manager Brian Cashman has been reluctant in recent years to part with prospects and the fact that New York's last deal with the Mariners hasn't turned out so well, Yankees fans can't be too bitter about his hesitation to pull the trigger on Morse.
We're still waiting on Michael Pineda.
The acquisition of Carlos Ruiz from the Philadelphia Phillies would have helped New York address a glaring need at catcher
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Hours after Francisco Cervelli accepted a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy regarding performance enhancing drugs, those who were in favor of letting Russell Martin walk this past offseason may be found kicking themselves in the rear end.
A definitive return date for Cervelli hadn't been established prior to his suspension. The indefinite absence of his bat means that New York has yet another gaping hole in its lineup.
Despite rumors that the team contacted the Philadelphia Phillies about Carlos Ruiz before the trade deadline, Chris Stewart remains the Yankees' best option at the catching position in the midst of a playoff race.
Ruiz wasn't a blockbuster target or even the most highly sought-after player on his own team. But the seven-year veteran would have been an undeniable short-term upgrade for the New York Yankees.
A career .274 hitter, Ruiz has respectable offensive numbers across the board for a catcher.
No disrespect to the very serviceable Chris Stewart, but that's exactly what he is: serviceable.
Looking forward, the Yankees can hope that Cervelli returns from his suspension by producing at the same rate as he did prior to the punishment. Because only then will Martin's name be forgotten.