An Early Breakdown of the Yankees' Best Trade Bait
The New York Yankees went all in this offseason, spending more than $500 million in an attempt to build a championship caliber team for 2014.
While Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann have all made a huge difference in this early season, the Bronx Bombers still have a few holes to fill on their roster. The infield depth is nonexistent, and the bullpen is young and inexperienced. Along the way, the Yankees just might need to make a trade in order to sure up their chances of winning their 28th World Series Championship.
Of course, that means giving up something in return, which begs an important question:
Just who are the Yankees' best trade chips?
All stats were obtained via Baseball Reference.
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A superstar, both in America and Japan, Ichiro Suzuki has seen his role diminish to that of a reserve player, serving as a backup outfielder and platooning against left-handed pitchers this season.
He has made good use of his limited opportunities thus far, batting .333 in 39 at-bats with 15 total bases. At the same time, Suzuki has played exceptional defense, whether it be as a starter or coming in as a late inning replacement.
Even at age 40, Suzuki still possesses enough speed to be a threat on the base paths and cover ground in the outfield. He may not be able to play center anymore, but he still has more range than most corners. With Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran all on the roster, there is little room for Suzuki in the Yankees outfield, making him expendable.
One hangup for possible suitors may be the price tag. At $6.5 million, Suzuki is making a pretty penny for a backup outfielder or even lower tier starter. The Yankees might have to eat some of that money to get a deal done.
A defensive stud, Austin Romine's value is based solely on what he can do behind the plate.
Never much of an offensive threat, Romine has a career .200 average in the majors with just one home run and 10 RBI's in 70 games. Still, his defensive skill makes him an asset.
With Brian McCann locked up, Gary Sanchez waiting in the wings, and John Ryan Murphy and Francisco Cervelli on the roster, the Yankees have an abundance of catching in the organization. Right now, Romine is clearly the odd man out.
On the right team, Romine could certainly make a major league roster, most likely as a backup catcher. Only 25 years old, there is time for him to work on his offensive game while still providing serviceable defense. He is currently playing for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate.
With a 3.36 ERA on the season, David Phelps has proven himself to be a fairly reliable pitcher coming out of the pen for the Yankees in the early going this year. He even recorded a save while closer David Robertson was on the disabled list.
Additionally, Phelps has made 23 career starts and owns a 4.09 ERA through three seasons, making him a solid option at the back end of the rotation if the need be.
According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, Phelps will likely fill in for the suspended and injured Michael Pineda, meaning he will make several starts in the coming weeks. If all goes well, a few solid outings could really make Phelps an attractive trade piece in the coming months given his versatility.
Possible Trade Partner: Arizona Diamondbacks
One possible trade partner for the Yankees could be the Arizona Diamondbacks. A potential deal could break down as such:
The Yankees receive:
- SS Didi Gregorius
- P J.J. Putz
The Diamondbacks receive:
- Ichiro Suzuki
- Austin Romine
- David Phelps
This deal would work out for both sides, filling multiple needs for both organizations.
Back in spring training, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers told the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro that the team was seeking a catcher.
Our biggest needs in our system are catching -- if it's the right, top-notch catching prospect, someone we could have right behind Miggy (Miguel Montero)... Maybe an outfielder, but probably more catching and Double-A, Triple-A type starter.
With Romine, Arizona would be getting just that, a solid defensive backup catcher to slide in behind Montero, the starter. Romine has big league experience and the skills you want from a backup, as Montero posses the power in this dynamic.
Additionally, Suzuki would bring a veteran presence as well as solid defense to an abysmal Diamondbacks team. After going into the season with playoff aspirations, Arizona has gotten off to an 8-21 start and may just need some leadership.
Phelps on the other hand could bring a much needed shakeup to Arizona's rotation or provide assistance in the bullpen while at the same time being under team control until 2019. With three pitchers on the disabled list due to Tommy John surgery (Patrick Corbin, David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds) and only two pitchers with a winning record (relievers Putz and Joe Thatcher are 1-0), Arizona's staff is looking pretty thin to say the least.
The Yankees could fill two major needs.
Despite being considered major league ready, Gregorius lost the battle to be the D'Backs starting shortstop to fellow prospect Chris Owings. At Triple-A Reno he is currently batting .269 with two homers and 10 RBI's.
For the Yankees, he would give the team much needed depth in the infield. He could even be looked at as a possible successor to Derek Jeter. At 24 years of age, there is still time for Gregorius to grow as a player.
Putz would give the Yankees a veteran reliever in the bullpen. Despite the early success of the team's relief corps, the bullpen is rather young and inexperienced. Putz also has experience as a closer, making him all the more valuable should Robertson sputter in his new role.
Of course, this deal is purely speculative, but the pieces do match. It would certainly help improve both teams. Perhaps Towers and Yankees GM Brian Cashman should get on the phone.
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