As the 2011 MLB trade deadline approaches, the New York Yankees aren't making any sudden or unexpected moves. There are no blockbuster trades or big names expected to land in the Bronx via trade this season and with each passing year it is getting harder and harder to remember the last time the Yankees made a big splash at the trade deadline.
The only thing Yankees fans can seem to remember is how they missed out on trading for Cliff Lee last year at the deadline. A missed opportunity that came back to haunt them against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the ALCS when Cliff Lee dismantled the Yankees lineup in a pivotal loss that pushed Texas past the Yankees for good.
The situation only got worse during the offseason when Lee decided to snub the Yankees and sign with the Philadelphia Phillies for less money.
Now, several years removed from the blockbuster deals that brought Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson to the Bronx, Yankees fans are waiting for the day when another star dons New York pinstripes in a mid-summer blockbuster deal.
Here are five blockbuster trades for Yankees fans young and old to dream about at the 2011 MLB trade deadline.
"In a deadline deal the New York Yankees acquire Felix Hernandez and Chone Figgins from the Seattle Mariners for top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and New York infielder Eduardo Nunez."
Likely the most coveted pitcher in all of baseball, Felix Hernandez has been the No. 1 trade target of the New York Yankees for several seasons. It is safe to say that when the Yankees were calling the Mariners about Cliff Lee last season, Hernandez' availability was discussed.
Now in just the second year of his five-year, $78 million dollar contract, King Felix will not be suiting up in pinstripes before the age of 30 if it's not via trade.
If Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are anything like their father, the late great George Steinbrenner, then waiting four seasons to acquire Hernandez in free agency won't cut it.
Regardless, it will still take a dismal finish to this season and a terrible first-half next season for the Mariners to consider parting with Hernandez.
Since the Mariners are still actively involved in the rebuilding process, the price tag on Hernandez will be slightly higher than normal. Expect the price to be at least three grade-A prospects of which two would likely need to be pitching prospects.
Considering that they are also not one of Major League Baseball's richer franchises, cutting additional payroll will be a priority in the rebuilding process. Chone Figgins has not performed in any way like the Mariners had hoped and with three years and $28 million left on his contract, the Mariners would potentially look to kill two birds with one stone by dealing Figgins to alleviate payroll for free agency in the coming offseason.
Since the Mariners know the Yankees covet Hernandez so highly and can afford Figgins' contract, it would not be surprising if they made that part of the deal.
"In a sign-and-trade blockbuster deal the New York Yankees have acquired shortstop Jose Reyes and a player to be named from the New York Mets for Eduardo Nunez and top Yankee prospects Dellin Betances, Hector Noesi and Slade Heathcott."
In 1996 when the Yankees made Derek Jeter their starting shortstop they had no idea that he would have a hall of fame career.
Now five World Series championships, seven American League Pennants and 3000 plus hits later the Yankees have huge shoes to fill at shortstop.
The Yankee faithful are hoping that Jeter will catch a second wind of greatness that carries him till he is 40 but just over halfway through the first year of his new three-year $51 million contract pressure is mounting in the Yankees front office to find Jeter's successor.
Who better than Jose Reyes?
Some would question his selection over Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but with all the headaches that Ramirez has caused for the Marlins coaching staff and front office, Jose Reyes moves way ahead of Ramirez in desirability.
At the end of the day, though, New York has no interest in trading Reyes if he wants to stay a Met. And since Reyes will be a free agent this winter, if he is going to move from Queens to the Bronx, it will likely happen during free agency or it won't happen at all.
For many Yankees fans this deal would be a dream come true. The Yankees have been eying this trade deadline since last year when they were contemplating how exactly to handle Jeter's contract situation.
Had things gone differently with Jeter, the Yankees would have made the Mets an offer that would have been hard to refuse.
"In a surprising deadline deal the New York Yankees acquire All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, Hiroki Kuroda and two minor league prospects to be named from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Freddy Garcia, Francisco Cervelli top prospects Austin Romaine, Brandon Laird, and Melky Mesa. The Yankees are finalizing a multi-year contract with Kemp as part of the trade."
Matt Kemp is no stranger to trade rumors that involve that Yankees.
Last season, as the trade deadline approached, it was rumored that the Yankees were in talks with the Dodgers about a swap that would involve Nick Swisher and a few Yankee prospects. The rumor mill swirled with possible trade scenarios involving the Yankees again this past offseason as Kemp neared the last year of his two-year, $10-plus million dollar contract.
Now that the Dodgers are floundering in the financial limbo of owner Frank McCourt's divorce, hindsight would say that a trade with the Yankees would have been wise, and it still would be.
A deal like this makes sense for both teams. It alleviates near $20 million from the Dodgers' payroll this season, and they get in return a solid arm in Garcia, a starter in Cervelli, and strong position prospects which are currently missing from the their farm system. While the Yankees get a long-time starter in Kemp, they also receive the arm they need this season to bolster their rotation. And if Kuroda doesn't work out, he will be a free agent next season.
Yankee fans everywhere would love to have a young, talented player like Matt Kemp in the lineup. Kemp would bring another big bat to the order, plenty of stolen bases, and with less ground for him to cover in New York's shallow right field, his defensive struggles would be less frequent.
If Kemp is coming to the Yankees it could be via trade this off-season but if the Dodgers aren't willing to trade him expect Kemp to hold out for big money in the following winter free-agency. Either way it would sure be nice for the Yankees to have him now.
"In a deadline deal the New York Yankees acquire first baseman Prince Fielder and outfielder Mark Kotsay from the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Brett Gardner, set-up man David Robertson, top prospect Brandon Laird and two more prospects to be named. The Yankees are expected to wrap up negotiations on a new contract within the week."
This trade really is nothing more than a dream. At this point the possibility of Prince Fielder ever joining the Yankees via trade is zero. Much like the aforementioned Felix Hernandez trade, the Brewers would have had to implode last season and then already be out of playoff contention this season for the team to move Fielder.
Now in the last year of his contract, Fielder has the Brewers scrambling to put some more pieces in place at the deadline to make a run at a title this season. If the Brewers are going to keep big-money franchises away from Fielder in free agency, they will have to give him something to feel nostalgic about in Milwaukee.
There are questions as to how the Yankees would even make Fielder fit in their lineup alongside first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million dollar contract in December 2008.
It is hard to imagine that either player would want to DH for the team as their primary role. It is almost equally hard to imagine that the players would rotate playing time at first base while being the DH on their days off. Never-the-less, rumors continue to swirl that CC Sabathia could lure his former teammate into pinstripes this offseason.
After missing out on Cliff Lee, the Yankees have the money, but signing Jose Reyes would be much more likely and a much greater priority.
"In a blockbuster trade the New York Yankees have acquired starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and outfielder Josh Willingham from the Oakland Athletics for starting pitcher Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and outfielder Brett Gardner."
Most baseball fans have yet to be acquainted with the Athletics' ace, Gio Gonzalez.
For many fans across the nation, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game was the first time they had ever seen or heard of Gonzalez. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, that is in large part due to the fact that he pitches in Oakland.
Had Gonzalez come up through the minors in any major sports market, baseball fans everywhere would likely see him on Sports Center every time he started.
He is 25, still improving (which cannot be said for the majority of this year's All-Star selections), and is better than every pitcher the Yankees have not named CC Sabathia. Gonzalez is the kind of arm that the Yankees could use this year at the deadline.
Too bad Gonzalez is not for sale.
Even though Oakland has been dwelling in or near last place, ever since the rise of the Texas Rangers, Gonzalez is the shiny new toy that the A's just started playing with. He has not pitched for the team long enough in the majors for them to consider dealing him. One way or the other, if Oakland does not trade Gonzalez, they will lose him for nothing during the winter in the not-so-distant future.
A deal like this is one Yankee fans can start dreaming of—you're welcome.
Now just over a year since "The Boss" passed away, Yankees fans are truly beginning to miss his "win at all costs" business practices.
George was probably rolling over in his grave when Yankees GM Brian Cashman let Cliff Lee fall to the Texas Rangers at last year's trade deadline.
If he had been alive and running the team, Steinbrenner would have made the call to acquire Lee himself or fired Cashman this past offseason for costing the Yankees back-to-back Commissioner's Trophies.
The Steinbrenner sons have proven to be very little like their father in any real way that matters.
Hank is oftentimes nothing more than a ploom of hot air while Hal has shown that he lacks true baseball sense. It often seems like someone with a name other than Steinbrenner owns the Yankees.
If "The Boss" was still alive and running the show, Yankees fans would not be forced to sit around at the trade deadline dreaming about blockbuster trades. Instead, they would have one, or knowing George, it probably would be two blockbuster deals.
-R.I.P The Boss-