New York Yankees

Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees made no moves at the deadline. Could this hurt their World Series chances in 2015?

By Bryan Pol

At the trade deadline last season, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was able to make something out of nothing.

On July 22, 2014, the Yankees nabbed third baseman Chase Headley from San Diego for Yangervis Solarte, a feel good story to the start of the 2014 season, and pitcher Rafael De Paula, rated the 10th best Yankee prospect prior to the 2013 season.1yanks2

Knowing Alex Rodriguez could no longer ably field the hot corner, Cashman toiled to acquire Headley, a player New York desperately needed, given that there was nobody to man his position in the minors. In December of 2015, the 31-year old would later sign a four year deal valued at $52 million. Wearing Wade Boggs’s old number 12, Headley has performed capably for the Yanks in 2015, hitting .270, an average he has not notched in a full season since 2012, with 9 homers and 42 RBI.

On deadline day, Cashman also managed to pry Stephen Drew from the rival Red Sox, a team in the midst of their own fire sale, and Martin Prado, a super utility man brought in from the Diamondbacks for slugging catcher Peter O’Brien, a player highly regarded amongst Yankee brass.  While Prado is no longer in pinstripes–he was traded to Miami last December–he was crucial in landing starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, arguably the Yankees’ most consistent rotation man of late, and was perhaps the best bat in the Yankee lineup in 2014’s final months.  Drew would become a free agent in the offseason, but would later sign a one year deal with the Yankees for $5 million, becoming the team’s starting second baseman.  As his Yankee numbers would indicate–a .178/.249/.342 slash line–Cashman has yet to find a suitable replacement for Robinson Cano.

In 2015, the Yankee haul around the deadline was laboring Mariners second baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley, a man slightly better than Drew, sporting a .215/.270.366 slash line, whose left-handed swing could be revived playing in a better lineup at Yankee Stadium.  Ackley, touted highly by Seattle ownership five years ago, has never quite lived up to his promise and could be had for very little:  Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez, two players who may never even witness The Show with Seattle.

By 4 PM ET of the non-waiver trading deadline, Ackley was all the Yankees were able to bring to the Bronx.

No Craig Kimbrel.

No Mike Leake.

No Aroldis Chapman.

No James Shields.

Not even Carter Capps.

The Padres demanded shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo, whom the Yankees would not include in any deal, then suddenly would, according to the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman. Despite including Mateo, the Yankees reportedly heard no word back from San Diego. Kimbrel stayed pat.

Mike Leake was the first acquisition of deadline day, as ESPN reported, at roughly 12:37 AM.  The Giants received him from the Reds for Keury Mella and Adam Duvall.  Despite a gaudy 4.93 ERA in the bandbox that is Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, Leake has managed a 2.28 ERA on the road, and will fare quite well in the spacious AT&T Park.  

The Giants started today a mere half-game behind the division leading Dodgers, and the acquisition of Leake will put pressure on a Dodger team that has reloaded (landing Mat Latos and Alex Wood) for a postseason run of their own.  There was no telling how well Leake would have done in a park similar–Yankee Stadium–to Cincinnati’s.

The flame-throwing Chapman remained in Cincinnati, as did outfielder Jay Bruce, rumored all day to be Queens-bound, but is said to be available at the next trading deadline–the waiver deadline–come August.  Nabbing him to support Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could bode well for New York.

There was no talk all day on the Shields front within any organization, and the Marlins appeared to be done dealing earlier in the day after aiding the Cubs in their pursuit of a World Series by dealing them Dan Haren.  In short, Capps stayed in Miami.

All around the Yankees, however, deal after deal was made to bolster quite a few American League contenders.

The Orioles, closest to the Yankees in the AL East standings, traded away reliever Zach Davies to obtain Gerardo Parra, a bonafide leadoff man, from Milwaukee.  Despite shipping fireballer Tommy Hunter to Chicago, Baltimore received Junior Lake, a decent outfield bat, in return.

The Royals, boasting the best record in the AL at 61-40, landed an ace in Johnny Cueto from the Reds and a superb utility man in Ben Zobrist from the Athletics.  Kansas City, despite struggles from Yordano Ventura, is poised to return to the World Series behind career years from Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar, who are building from the postseason successes they enjoyed last season.

The Rangers acquired arguably the best arm available at the deadline in Cole Hamels, and can retain him until roughly 2020.  While the deal guarantees nothing in 2015 in the way of the playoffs, Texas will be a serious contender with the returns of Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, and maturing from Joey Gallo, in 2016 and beyond.

The Astros, well ahead of schedule to compete in the American League, were able to land Scott Kazmir, along with Mike Fier and Carlos Gomez, whom the Mets so embarrassingly failed to acquire on Tuesday.  Given the success of their young club, Houston has more than an AL West division title in mind.

And then there are the Toronto Blue Jays, likely the biggest threat to the Yankees’ hold on the division, who acquired superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, an ace with World Series experience (albeit as a reliever) in David Price, a stout reliever in Mark Lowe, and a legitimate leadoff man in Ben Revere to bolster a lineup lead by MVP hopeful Josh Donaldson.  Having not made the playoffs since Joe Carter’s glorious walk off homer in Game 6 of the ’93 Series, the Blue Jays are perhaps the most dangerous team to dethrone the Royals for AL supremacy.

Yes, the Yankees did not deal with the future in mind, unheard of for any organization associated with the Steinbrenner pedigree. ESPN named the Yankees “losers” at the trade deadline, largely because Cashman refused to budge on including any notable prospects in any deal, from Aaron Judge to Gregory Bird, Jorge Mateo, and Luis Servino, whom Cashman said will start in the majors this week, which bodes spectacular given the troubling statuses of Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova.  All of these players will be on hand to help the Bombers contend in the next two to three years.

But what of 2015?

Seemingly EVERYONE reloaded save for New York, who do not appear overly concerned over Pineda’s forearm, Nova’s up-and-down return from prior arm issues, or the fact the club sports the worst starting pitcher in the majors in CC Sabathia, on the books for $50 million in 2016 and 2017.

The revival of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, a clubhouse favorite and de facto leader who is etching his name about the record books and making peace with the notion that the organization barely recognized his milestones (passing Willie Mays on the all-time homerun list and his 3000th hit), has been magnificent for the team, as has the play of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury and the dominance of Betances and Miller at the backend of the bullpen.  Add to this mix Masahiro Tanaka, who avoided Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees have, beyond all sense of reason, made themselves into a contender.

Perhaps David Price fails to lead the Blue Jays to the World Series the very same way he could not lead Detroit to the Fall Classic last season.

Perhaps Johnny Cueto crumbles with little postseason experience under his belt.

Perhaps the Angels will not have managed enough despite the rebirth of Albert Pujols and the continued brilliant play of Mike Trout.

Perhaps the Astros prove themselves too young to contend, and the Orioles convey a less-than-ambitious mindset that only managed one deal (for Parra) to buttress their march on the Yankees.

Perhaps the Yankees party again like it is 2009 and the quest for 28 becomes more than a mere pipe dream.

As for where the world of baseball stands on July 31, it is far too early to tell.

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I am an English teacher, music and film aficionado, husband, father of two delightful boys, writer, sports fanatic, former Long Islander, and follower of Christ. Based on my Long Island upbringing, I was groomed as a Yankees, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fan, and picked up Duke basketball, Notre Dame football, and Tottenham Hotspur football fandom along the way.