What tricks does New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman have up his sleeves in the next few hours?
The Yanks are in an interesting position. At the time of writing, they're 5.5 games out in the American League East and 3.0 back in the wild-card race. Doing something before the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline would be great and all, but New York doesn't have much to offer in terms of assets.
How much can it get done?
Instead of dictating the market, the Yankees will more likely let the market play itself out and then figure out workable trades. ESPN's Buster Olney believes that New York will take advantage of teams hoping to offload unwieldy contracts:
Yankees are positioned for the last day salary dumps, when opposing teams drop pretenses and just try to move salaries to save money.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 30, 2014
For the most part, money isn't much of an issue for New York. Now, the team isn't going to be trading for Ryan Howard anytime soon, but it could take on a veteran or two who are slightly overpaid but productive pieces.
One such veteran could be Josh Willingham. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees are interested in possibly acquiring the 35-year-old outfielder. His contract is up at the end of the year, and with the Minnesota Twins unlikely to bring him back, he likely can be had for a low price.
Willingham's having a tough year, batting .222/.363/.422 with 10 home runs and 30 runs batted in. Nobody's expecting him to return to his 2012 self, when he hit 35 homers and drove in 110, but he could be a nice situational bat.
With Willingham's contract expiring, the Yankees wouldn't be stuck with him for the future, either, in the event they're not satisfied with his contribution.
Another outfielder in New York's cross hairs is Philadelphia's Marlon Byrd. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported that the Yankees are interested but slightly turned off by the vesting option in his contract for 2016:
Byrd would arguably be a better fit following Kelly Johnson's injury. The 36-year-old is a much more natural right fielder than the converted infielder, who is out with a sore groin. Byrd would fill the corner outfield spot, which is where the Yanks are having a lot of problems. He's also hitting .270/.318/.477 with 20 homers and 60 RBI.
When asked about the possibility of getting traded, Byrd responded that it's all out of his hands, per George A. King III and Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
That’s something I can’t control. I don’t have a no-trade [clause], So if [general manager] Ruben [Amaro] makes a trade with them and gets something back in return, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to trade Marlon,’ there’s nothing I can do. I’ll pack my bags and move on.
In a perfect world, the Yankees would add Byrd to solve their problems in right and add a little more power. Between his contract and the Phillies' asking price—which is likely more than nothing—the deal will be hard to pull off before the deadline.
Another area New York is looking to bolster is the bullpen. Stark reported that Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardo, San Diego's Joaquin Benoit and the Chicago Cubs' James Russell are only a sampling of the names the Yanks are considering.
They aren't desperately in need of relievers, but you can never have too much bullpen depth with as much as relief pitching has grown specialized. None of those players will move the needle, but they could come in handy come playoff time.
That's the umbrella the Yankees' deadline business will likely fall under. Chase Headley was New York's semi-big bit of business, and now the team is looking to fortify a few problem areas.