It's always a big deal whenever the New York Yankees and New York Mets meet for the Subway Series. And with both clubs in first place in their respective divisions, even more so for the latest iteration that got underway Tuesday.
Now, just imagine how much of a bigger deal the next Subway Series (Aug. 22-23) will be if the Yankees and Mets use Major League Baseball's Aug. 2 trade deadline to try to steer themselves back toward the dominant tracks they had been on earlier in 2022.
The Yankees seemed unstoppable when they got off to a 49-16 start that had them on pace for a 120-win season. Since June 19, however, they've returned to earth with a 17-16 stretch. They still lead the American League East, but their advantage over the Houston Astros for the AL's top record has dwindled to just two games.
The Mets, meanwhile, are 25-20 since peaking at 35-17 on June 1. They're now clinging to first place in the National League East, where Atlanta is just two games off the pace.
Some good news for both clubs is that neither has seen its World Series odds take a dive. On the contrary, FanGraphs gives the Mets a 14.5 percent chance and the Yankees a 13.1 percent chance of winning it all. For the Yankees, such an outcome would mean their first championship since 2009. For the Mets, since 1986.
But since both the Yankees and Mets must first focus on making upgrades on the trade market, here's a look at what each team needs and the ideal fits for those needs.
3 Trade Needs for the Yankees
1. Relief Pitcher
You'd never know it from looking at the 2.94 ERA that they've gotten out of their relievers, but the Yankees do indeed need help in the bullpen.
Chalk it up to poor seasons by Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga, and even more so to injuries. Left-hander Zack Britton and right-hander Chad Green are both recovering from Tommy John surgery, and now the bridge to All-Star closer Clay Holmes is even more unstable after breakout righty Michael King fractured his elbow last Friday.
"We'll continue to assess the roster, but King is a really important member of our bullpen," general manager Brian Cashman told reporters. "Ultimately, I've got from now until Aug. 2."
Ideal Target: David Robertson, Chicago Cubs
After making all of 19 appearances between 2019 and 2021, the former Yankee has found new life with a 1.83 ERA and 14 saves through 35 appearances this season. Not bad for a 37-year-old, and he's only making $3.5 million on a one-year deal.
The Yankees rank third in the majors with the 7.2 rWAR that they've gotten out of their outfielders. But 5.1 of that belongs to Aaron Judge, who's otherwise chasing Roger Maris' 61 home runs from 1961 with 38 bombs through 95 games.
Meanwhile, fellow slugger Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles tendinitis) is now on the injured list, and Joey Gallo remains in a deep, deep slump. The Yankees thus need an outfielder even more than they did on July 1, when Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported the team was scanning the market for reinforcements.
Ideal Target: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
What, you thought we were going to say Andrew Benintendi? No way. Even setting aside that his vaccination status makes him ineligible for games in Canada, Benintendi's merits simply don't include a .426 OBP or 118 home runs before his 24th birthday.
3. Starting Pitcher
Gerrit Cole is on the periphery of the AL Cy Young Award race, and New York's rotation has broadly been just fine to the tune of a 3.31 ERA.
Less broadly, Luis Severino is on the shelf with a strained lat, and Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery have a 5.85 ERA dating back to June 19. It's not quite an emergency situation, perhaps, but it's nothing if not a good excuse to upgrade.
Ideal Target: Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds
Trade rumors connecting the Yankees to Castillo have been a seemingly daily feature over the last couple of years. So it goes once again this season, wherein the two-time All-Star has been excellent as he's pitched to a 2.77 ERA over 78 innings.
3 Trade Needs for the Mets
The Mets signed James McCann during the winter of 2020-21 in hopes that he would be their stalwart behind the plate, but he had a down year in '21 and hasn't been able to stay off the IL in 2022. The Mets have felt the effects, as their minus-0.5 rWAR out of the catching position ranks dead last among NL clubs.
There will hopefully come a day when Francisco Alvarez, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, will be the Mets' franchise catcher. But given that he's just 20 years old and only a recent arrival to Triple-A Syracuse, that day likely won't come in 2022.
Ideal Target: Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
This is something the Mets have already determined for themselves, as Pat Ragazzo of SI.com reports they're in on both Contreras and Robertson:
Pat Ragazzo @ragazzoreport
Sources: Mets and Cubs have been discussing a potential trade package that would send Willson Contreras and David Robertson to NY for multiple prospects (Not named Alvarez or Baty)<br><br>Talks are ongoing, packages still being discussed as of late last weekend<a href="https://t.co/Ef247mvW4M">https://t.co/Ef247mvW4M</a>
Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, there is some concern about Contreras "meshing with a new pitching staff on the fly" following a trade. But in light of how little their catchers have produced, the Mets have a better excuse than most to not worry about that.
Is this too vague? Perhaps, but we think it accurately describes the other big need in the Mets lineup. Of its 95 home runs for the season, 25 belong to Pete Alonso.
The Mets did take a step toward solving their power needs when they acquired the left-handed-hitting Daniel Vogelbach from the Pittsburgh Pirates last Friday. As 55 of his 61 career homers have come against righties, he's a good platoon option at designated hitter.
Ideal Target: J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
Though the Mets could potentially fill their need for a right-handed component of said platoon with a Trey Mancini or a Nelson Cruz, neither boasts Martinez's .299/.367/.477 slash line. He's also especially dangerous (1.051 OPS) against southpaws, so it's no great surprise that the Mets have him on their radar.
3. Relief Pitcher
The Mets have a hole in their rotation right now, but they're due to fill that in-house once some guy named Jacob deGrom (shoulder) is ready to go. That should be shortly after the trade deadline.
Though the Mets also stand to get Trevor May (stress reaction in arm) back soon, they should be less willing to let it roll with the relievers they already have. Veteran closer Edwin Diaz has been scintillating all season, yet the bridge to him lacks a true shutdown setup man.
Ideal Target: David Robertson, Chicago Cubs
Once again, the Mets already have this figured out. One catch is that Robertson has mostly worked in the ninth inning this season, but one assumes he would be fine in the eighth. If he could set up for Mariano Rivera, then he can probably do the same for Diaz.
The Yankees' and Mets' Top Trade Chips
In Gallo and Miguel Andujar, the Yankees have two intriguing change-of-scenery candidates among their wares.
Yet neither player is much more than a throw-in in any potential trade, so now's a good time to get acquainted with the Tier 1 prospects in the Yankees' farm system:
- SS Anthony Volpe (21 years old): .807 OPS, 13 HR, 35 SB at AA
- OF Jasson Dominguez (19): .828 OPS, 10 HR, 21 SB at A/A+
- SS Oswald Peraza (22): .762 OPS, 12 HR, 23 SB at AAA
- LHP Ken Waldichuk (24): 2.44 ERA, 106 K, 29 BB at AA/AAA
- C Austin Wells (23): .897 OPS, 9 HR, 9 SB at A/A+/AA
One of those two shortstops—more likely Peraza—could be expendable in a blockbuster, though the single loudest tool here might be Dominguez's power:
The Mets also have an appealing change-of-scenery candidate in Dominic Smith. They're otherwise short on expendable major leaguers, so here's their list of Tier 1 prospects:
- C Francisco Alvarez (20 years old): .885 OPS, 19 HR, 0 SB at AA/AAA
- 3B Brett Baty (22): .878 OPS, 13 HR, 1 SB at AA
- C Kevin Parada (20): No. 11 pick in 2022 draft
- OF Alex Ramirez (19): .813 OPS, 8 HR, 19 SB at A/A+
One caveat here is that Alvarez may be so valuable as to be untouchable, with another being that the Mets can't yet trade Parada. The "Trea Turner rule," as it's known, requires teams to hold on to their most recent draft picks until after the World Series.
As such, Baty may be the club's top trade chip. He is indeed a good one, though, as he's seen as having plus tools in both the hit and power categories.
Which Team Has the Better Shot at Juan Soto?
It would be more reasonable to dedicate a section to whether the Yankees or Mets have the better shot at Robertson. Reasonable, sure...but not particularly fun.
Not as fun as the Soto question, anyway. Heyman quickly tabbed the Yankees and Mets as fits for the wunderkind slugger as soon as he hit the market, and now we know what he's going to cost courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX
What's the Nationals asking price for Juan Soto? <a href="https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ken_Rosenthal</a> reports that it will take 4 to 5 top young players (combo of prospects and major leaguers with low service time) to potentially land the superstar <a href="https://t.co/fefj20gO7P">pic.twitter.com/fefj20gO7P</a>
Quantity-wise, the Yankees have the edge in desirable prospects and could potentially sweeten the deal for the Nationals by including Gleyber Torres. Because of Alvarez, however, one could make the case that the Mets have an edge quality-wise.
But even if such things make the Yankees and Mets roughly equal fits for Soto on paper, "the field" might be the best bet for his eventual landing spot.
Another report from Heyman on July 21 stated that neither club would give in if the Nationals insisted on getting all three of its top prospects. And because they share the NL East with the Nationals, the Mets would face a whole 'nother kind of hurdle in trying to pry Soto loose.
Predicting One Trade for the Yankees
The Deal: New York Yankees get LF Andrew Benintendi and RHP Scott Barlow; Kansas City Royals get LHP Ken Waldichuk
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that the Yankees are indeed interested in Benintendi:
He's not as exciting as Soto, but Benintendi is a sensible target for the Yankees. They frankly need an OBP-tuned hitter among all their SLG monsters. And while his vaccination status could be an issue come October, for now the Yankees only have three more regular-season games north of the border against the Toronto Blue Jays.
As for Barlow, he's a reliever with a 1.93 ERA and club control through 2024. What's more, he likely hasn't achieved his full potential as a strikeout artist.
Predicting One Trade for the Mets
The Deal: New York Mets get 1B C.J. Cron and RHP Daniel Bard; Colorado Rockies get 3B/1B Mark Vientos and RHP Mike Vasil
It would be too easy to simply assume that the proposed Contreras/Robertson deal will get done, so we're zigging with a hypothetical trade with the Colorado Rockies instead.
The Mets do like the right-handed-hitting Cron, according to Andy Martino of SNY. And while Bard isn't quite as appealing as Robertson, he does have a similar profile as a 37-year-old veteran with closer-caliber stuff.