Well, the Yankees are looking to make a big splash. Again. With rumors surrounding the Yankees and Cliff Lee in a possible trade, you cannot help but wonder two things:
1. Who do the Yankees trade away?
2. Who is out of the starting rotation?
First, you need to remember that this might not necessarily happen through a trade. Lee is in his final contract year and is preparing to hit the winter slopes of free agency.
Let's assume, for now, that he is traded to the Yankees. You'll hear many rumors along the lines of "trading Robinson Cano" or "trading Phil Hughes." Those rumors need to be dispelled now. The Yankees will never give away one of those two top young stars for a player that is soon to enter free agency anyway. The Mariners are also smart enough to not expect that much value in return.
So what would the M's want? Many people are assuming SS Eduardo Nunez is on the table. This is one player I would miss if it meant getting Cliff Lee. Derek Jeter still has a couple of years in him, and I believe that the Yankees' 2010 first round draft pick, SS Cito Culver, is underrated. He could be polished in time for when Jeter retires.
The Mariners are also rumored to want a catching prospect as well. I do not believe that this means Francisco Cervelli. He looks to be the official Jorge Posada replacement, as the latter has been plagued with injuries as of late (for this season anyway). Looking at the Yankees' current prospects, I would expect that Jesus Montero or Austin Romine would be shipped west for Lee.
I'm not a supporter of trading for him though. The best bet for the Yankees is waiting until the winter.
As for the starting rotation, this deal would beg the question of "Who would be out?" The Yankees have room for improvement in their rotation...though it is not much.
CC Sabathia would be bumped down to the No. 2 spot in the rotation. This may sound crazy to some, but there's a good reason for this. This season, Lee has a better ERA and a better BAA. He's 4-2 on a Seattle team that does not offer much run support. CC is only 6-3, and Yankees fans have been crying for better production from him.
A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte would both be bumped down a spot as well. Phil Hughes would stay in the fifth spot in the rotation.
The odd man out? Javier Vazquez. Yes, he's been picking up the pace lately with four wins in his last five starts. However, Pettitte is 7-1. Hughes is 8-2. Sabathia and Burnett are much more reliable.
If Lee comes to the Yanks in a trade, Vazquez is relegated to the bullpen or Triple-A. If the Yanks wait until free agency, Vazquez will be a free agent anyway. I don't think the Yankees will re-sign him unless they are desperate. The only way I think the Yankees even consider him is if Pettitte retires, which I deem unlikely due to this year's production.
What's the impact? Well, you get a second true ace added to a rotation that would be a combined 31-11 at this moment. You also get another pitcher that can pitch deep into games, which will rest the bullpen a bit.