MLB Trade Deadline 2012: 5 Biggest Trade Pieces New York Yankees Must Pursue

Matt Dunn@MattDunn14Correspondent IJuly 23, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline 2012: 5 Biggest Trade Pieces New York Yankees Must Pursue

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    As we near the MLB trade deadline, teams are scrambling to try to improve their chances of winning the World Series, whether it's this year or somewhere down the road.

    The addition of the second wild-card spot to the playoff format has put more teams in the hunt for the postseason than ever before. While this has reduced the number of proverbial "sellers" at the deadline, it's made the competition for prize targets even more heated. Every team feels that one key player may put them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot.

    The Yankees appear to be comfortably in the driver's seat for a playoff spot, but that doesn't mean they should be complacent at the deadline. They should take advantage of any opportunity to try to improve and increase their chances at winning championship No. 28.

    Here's a list of guys who are reportedly available who the Yankees should consider trying to add. While I won't say that the Yankees are dead in the water without one and/or all of these guys, if they can get them for the right price, they should give some serious consideration to making them Yankees.

Cole Hamels

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    One thing that has been highlighted throughout the Yankees season has been the success of their starting pitching staff. Despite injuries to C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, not to mention the perceived need for Pettitte to un-retire, the Yankees have enjoyed some of the best starting pitching in the league.

    Despite their success to this point in the season the one thing you can never have enough of in the playoffs is pitching. With that in mind I would recommend that the Yankees try to trade for Cole Hamels.

    According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Hamels has not signed any number of contract extension offers from the Phillies, keeping a move before the deadline possible. Hamels is 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA on the year, despite playing for a team that's only got 42 wins total.

    If the Yankees can get him without losing an arm and a leg, they absolutely should.

Matt Garza

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    I know that he's only 5-7 on the year, but he is playing on a Cubs team that is putrid so I'm going to give him a tiny break.

    The reason I put Garza on here as well is because, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported, Garza is being viewed as a more valuable trading piece than Hamels or Zach Greinke because he's under contract until 2013. 

    I'd also like to add that he'd probably end up being a lot cheaper than Cole Hamels. The Cubs aren't looking for anything to immediate so it would probably end up being younger guys and prospects, but adding a guy like Garza to the rotation gives the Yankees a ton of depth.

Justin Upton

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    Justin Upton finished fourth in MVP voting in the National League last year and now Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes he will be traded.

    Right now the Yankees outfield has been producing at an alarming rate, given their collective ages. But that is what worries me: their ages.

    Andrew Jones is 35, Dewayne Wise is 34, Darnell McDonald is 33 and Raul Ibanez is 40. Those are the four guys the Yankees have backing up in their outfield. 

    Now, with that said, they have done an amazing job, at least from a production standpoint, but if the Yankees had the opportunity to trade for a talent like Justin Upton and sign him long-term, that could be a huge deal.

    I love Brett Gardner as a player, but to go from the 15-day D.L. two weeks into the season, to having season-ending surgery in July is troubling, especially when it's on your elbow. 

    Not to give him the boot too soon, but Upton would be a huge pick up for the Yankees.

Kelly Shoppach

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    The biggest issue I see here is the fact that he's currently with the Red Sox, who won't be jumping at the chance to help the Yankees win, but he'd be a big addition. Plus, with Ryan Lavarnway marinating in Triple-A, the Red Sox don't need him.

    Russell Martin has struggled enormously this season and while he and backup Chris Stewart are a decent duo to have behind the plate, a little more pop in the batter's box wouldn't be the end of the world. 

    In 38 games this season, Shoppach is hitting .274 with five homers and 14 RBI. Obviously not blowing the doors off the place, but it'd be nice to see a little more production from behind the plate. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe notes that he is available, and the Mets have taken a look.

Ryan Dempster

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    The biggest draw here is the fact that Dempster can pitch either in the starting rotation or out of the bullpen.

    The bullpen has been outstanding for the Yankees, but given Joe Girardi's proclivity for micro-managing the bullpen, another quality arm in the bullpen never hurts a team.

    I know Dempster has been unbelievable on the mound as a starter, but the Yankees could use him anywhere.