With the wealth of talent in their farm system, the New York Yankees could quickly light up the Hot Stove League this winter with a barrage of trades, including one for Giancarlo Stanton with a package no other team could team could match. But that would be putting the cart before the horse, and here’s why.
The Yankees have a big problem. They have way too much talent throughout their system and a good portion of it is major league ready. For Brian Cashman, attempting to squeeze all that talent into 40 spots on the Team’s roster is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. It can be done, but at some point, you have to pare here and trim there.
At this time last year, Cashman’s mantra, despite pressure from fans and media to do otherwise, was to not make any moves via trades that would require the release of young talent and to use 2017 as an evaluation season. After which, he would have a better handle on who’s real and who’s not throughout the Yankees system
Well, that time has come.
Consider this. Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Domingo Acevedo, and Albert Abreu are all ranked in the Yankees Top 10 Prospects by MLB. And yet, none are included on the team’s 40-man roster. For the moment, they are protected due to their length of service. However, the clock is ticking, and at some point, the Yankees will be forced to find a spot on their roster or cut bait with the player who’s clock has struck midnight.
Perhaps the best example of the dilemma facing the team is Chance Adams. Last season alone between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Adams compiled a 15-5 record with a 2.45 ERA, while holding batters to a .193 average. What more does a player have to do to earn a few starts at Yankee Stadium?
And yet, there is little discussion of Adams as a fifth starter in the Yankees rotation. Instead, the talk is moving Chad Green from the bullpen where he has been lights out as a middle reliever into the rotation.
Regardless of the validity of Green as a starter, and his upside is over the top, Adams is ready — or not. Adams has nothing left to prove by pitching in a minor league uniform. But come April, unless he’s traded, he’ll still be wearing one.
The Yankees are ready for 2018 right now
The problem is further exasperated by the fact the Yankees, in theory, could do absolutely nothing with their 25-man roster and the 2018 season could begin tomorrow with the team an overwhelming lock to make the playoffs as a minimal goal.
Yes, Cashman would like to unload Jacoby Ellsbury to create a spot for Clint Frazier. But unless the Yankees eat a significant portion of the money owed to Ellsbury through the 2020 season, the chances of a trade are nil. So again, the team has a player in Frazier with no bed to sleep on.
Cashman is adept at putting these little sound bites out there pitting his veterans against his young go-getters. Consider, for example, what he recently told Erik Boland of Newsday:
‘Whether it’s Gleyber Torres, whether it’s Andujar, whether it’s Clint Frazier,” Cashman said. “Those guys are all serving notice on the more established players that ‘Don’t sleep on us because we’re trying to take what you’ve got.’ Specifically citing Torres, Cashman was more direct, saying ‘“I think it’s Headley’s (job) more to defend.’
That’s one way to stir the pot to create some manufactured excitement for Spring Training, but in reality, the movie set built by Cashman is made only for the movies, and we shouldn’t place any bets on Torres beating out Headley, Frazier knocking aside Brett Gardner, or Miguel Andujar even making the team.
And again, you’ll recall last Spring when Gleber Torres arrived in camp with the Arizona Fall League MVP Award and continued to catch attention throughout the preseason, only to be rewarded with a ticket to the low minor leagues.
He worked his way up the ladder, showing well at each level before his season ended with an injury, but what will the excuse be this spring when he shines again? Torres, while not polished, is major league ready, and all but a few teams in the league would find a place in their lineup for him yesterday.
Yankees logjam too much to handle
It would be a stretch to say the Yankees have too much of a good thing because in baseball that’s never a sure thing. Just ask the Mets how their pitching is coming along these days.
But the challenge facing Brian Cashman is almost overwhelming when you consider the depth of the Yankees system, together with so few roster spots to fill. And the only way to reduce the problem is by trading away what he considers the excess.
He would like that excess to come off the top if he can unload high-priced veterans like Ellsbury, Headley, and even Starlin Castro who if traded would open up a spot for Torres at second base. But practically speaking, what are the odds of any of those trades coming to fruition? Back to square one for Cashman.
And if you think there’s a logjam now, don’t even think about next year when Manny Machado and Bryce Harper become available as free agents to fill either third base or an outfield spot, depending on who the Yankees want more.
All of which may be too big of a jigsaw puzzle for Cashman to solve, leading to another winter of kicking the can down the road until mid-summer again, when the needs of the team become more clear and things get sorted out further in evaluating the talent the team has.
That window is closing fast and we haven’t even considered the effects mentally on the players like a Chance Adams, who is caught in the maelstrom of a storm that’s out of his control.
But that’s a story for another time.