MLB Trade Deadline: Latest News Surrounding the New York Yankees

John Lund@@lundinbridgeFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2015

New York Yankees' CC Sabathia stands in the dugout in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Monday July 27, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

There's still plenty of time before the MLB trade deadline closes at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, but—like a boy asking a girl to prom—some teams will wait until the last minute to present their dream player with a corsage. Though the New York Yankees hold first place in the American League East, the Bronx Bombers might be wise to make a move now before it's too late.

It could be argued that the Yankees have been the biggest surprise of the MLB this season. With many former superstars hitting the back end of their careers, it appeared this would be the start of several rebuilding years.

But some of the biggest question marks coming into the season—such as Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira—have been the biggest proponents of New York's success. It's a big reason why the Yankees are up seven games in the division (at least at the time of this writing).

Don't let that number fool you, however. The AL East is certainly not in the bag, and several glaring holes still exist on the roster.

Before their game Tuesday night, the Yankees ranked second among all MLB teams in runs (456), home runs (131) and RBI (436). Seems pretty good, right?

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Not when your starting second baseman is batting .188. Yes, Stephen Drew is hitting .188. At shortstop, Didi Gregorius had stretches earlier in the season when Yankees fans would have probably rather had Derek Jeter back in pinstripes.

However, as the New York Post's Joel Sherman noted, New York didn't even attempt to acquire Jeter's No. 1 fan, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays late Monday night, with Toronto confirming the deal Tuesday morning.

But there are still options available in the middle infield.

The Yankees lost out on a solid bat when the the Oakland Athletics traded Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals, per ESPN.com, but that could open the door for them to acquire back a familiar face in Martin Prado.

New York Post columnist Joel Sherman tweeted earlier that Prado would indeed be on the market and that both the Yankees and New York Mets were interested.

Prado fared well with the Yankees down the home stretch last season, with .316/.336/.541 numbers before appendicitis hit in mid-September. He's owed $11 million in 2016, $3 million of which the Yankees are already paying.

You could also argue that New York should just call Rob Refsnyder back from Scranton/Wilkes Barre. The 24-year-old is batting .288 with seven home runs and 42 RBI for the RailRiders this season. He also hit a home run and drove in two RBI in his second major league game against the Boston Red Sox earlier in July.

But perhaps the biggest red flag for the Yankees is with their pitching.

New York has one of the best back ends to its bullpen in baseball with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Curiously enough, however, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Monday that the Yankees might be interested in San Diego Padres closer Craig Kimbrel.

Heyman mentioned in the same report that "the Yankees are investigating most of the starters and relievers on the market" and that Kimbrel has $28 million left on his contract through 2017. Not that money has ever been an issue for the Yankees.

What could push things further is that one of the teams who showed high interest in Kimbrel has reportedly backed off, per the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga.

However, a more recent issue, at least in acquiring big names, has been the reluctance of general manager Brian Cashman to part with some of the better prospects found within the farm system.

Heyman said as much on Monday regarding the possibility of Cole Hamels donning a different color of pinstripes.

The Yankees have discussed just about every available top starter and reliever, but sometimes the conversations are short because the Yankees are determined not to part with any of their top four prospects: pitcher Luis Severino, outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird or shortstop Jorge Mateo.

The Phillies, for instance, recently asked for Severino or Judge again from the Yankees for Cole Hamels. The Yankees have rebuffed this suggestion multiple times over the past many months.

It's not that holding on to prospects is a bad thing. A shaky rotation, however, is.

The Yankees have worked a starting rotation by committee at times this season while battling through some injuries and poor performances. There have been solid outings but not as much consistency as manager Joe Girardi might like.

The biggest inconsistency has come from CC Sabathia, whose spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. The southpaw is 4-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 19 games this season. That ERA is 89th-best of 93 qualifiers in the majors. Oof.

Heyman discussed Sabathia on Monday as well, noting that it might be best for him to head to the bullpen.

Sabathia based on his stats might make an excellent lefty reliever, as he has 31 strikeouts and no walks vs. lefty hitters this year, who have posted a .439 OPA against him. But a Yankees person pooh-poohed that option when recently asked about it.

Sabathia has $38 million to go through 2016 with a $25-million vesting option for '18 and $5-million buyout.

Heyman also reported New York could be interested in the Cincinnati Reds' Mike Leake and the Chicago White Sox's Jeff Samardzija as possible starters, but a bullpen arm might be more likely to get Adam Warren back in the rotation.

Plus, the Yankees could pull a page from the Royals' playbook, as Kansas City rode its bullpen to the World Series last season.

The Yankees will always be in the room when it comes to the MLB trade deadline. The question that remains for this season—and for the future—is if they need to make a move.

Perhaps it might be best to just ride things out. The Yankees bats have been able to combat poor starting pitching and do just enough to get the ball in the bullpen's hands.

Tuesday night serves as a perfect example to that point. After Chris Capuano walked five and surrendered five runs without making it out of the first inning against the Texas Rangers, the Yankees responded with 11 runs in the second and built a 16-5 lead by the fourth. Bronx Bombers indeed.

The farm system has been slowly building, and New York has been burned far too many times in the past when signing aging free agents or overly expensive long-term contracts. It's nice to see Cashman put his foot down (at least so far) regarding trading younger prospects.

With most contending teams, there are certainly holes that can be filled, but that's only if the price is right.