The New York Yankees need a starting pitcher. There are prospects they can part with and others they should avoid trading at all costs.
With the 2018 MLB trade deadline about a month away and injuries to key players Jordan Montgomery and Masahiro Tanaka fully entrenched, it’s clear the New York Yankees will be making a move. Team owner Hal Steinbrenner has already confirmed the team will be in the market for a starting pitcher.
The starting pitching market is a mixed bag with a few decent names such as Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ more than likely being available and even a few long shots like Jacob deGrom and Madison Bumgarner potentially getting moved for a premium.
However, when general manager Brian Cashman gets on the phone with other clubs, he needs to do what he’s been doing best and get quality players back for an affordable price. It’s pretty clear there are prospects he should trade and some that he shouldn’t.
Here are three Brian Cashman should not move
Honorable mentions go out to second baseman, Gleyber Torres and third baseman, Miguel Andujar. This list is going to focus on minor league players the Yankees have. In addition to that, both Steinbrenner and Cashman have made it pretty clear both Torres and Andujar aren’t going anywhere.
Albert Abreu, Starting Pitcher
Albert Abreu, who was acquired from the Houston Astros in the Brian McCann trade before the start of the 2017 season, is the Yankees third-ranked prospect and number 65 in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The 22-year-old can throw in the mid-90s and has the potential to project as high as a solid number two starting pitcher.
What makes Abreu so important is what he offers the team long-term. While he isn’t exactly close to contributing at the major league level yet, eventually he will be.
Yes, he could be moved to bring in another starting pitcher to help the Yankees win now, but whoever they choose to bring in probably won’t be a part of the team for many years beyond 2018. By trading away a package of prospects that doesn’t include Abreu, the Yankees could help their rotation not only now but in the future.
With Gleyber Torres now raking in the majors, Estevan Florial has become the Yankees number one prospect. In addition to that, Florial is only 20-years old and the 37th best prospect, again according to MLB.com.
Outside of the bullpen, it is pretty safe to say the Yankees next best area in terms of talent is in the outfield. With names like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner, it’s clear there won’t be any spots open in the outfield for older, more major league ready prospects in the near future.
Florial is still years away from the big leagues and is already considered a stud by scouts. By the time he is ready to don the pinstripes, a spot will more than likely open up. Not mention, there aren’t really any obtainable starters worth dealing the team’s best overall prospect for at this time.
Justus Sheffield, Starting Pitcher
Justus Sheffield, the Yankees number two prospect and 40th overall, should be considered untouchable for all of the same reasons listed for Abreu. However, what separates the two is that Sheffield is a lot closer to being major league ready.
The 22-year-old started this season at AA with the Trenton Thunder and is currently in AAA with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Between both teams, Sheffield has a surprising 2-4 record but has pitched to a 2.67 earned run average and has collected 72 strikeouts in 60.2 innings pitched, as of June 20.
Realistically, he could be called upon to help the Yankees rotation next season or even this one depending on injuries. With potential as high as Sheffield’s and him being as close as he is, there is no sense in parting ways with him.
Here are three quality prospects Cashman should consider trading
An honorable mention for this category is outfielder Clint Frazier. Frazier has had enough MLB experience to no longer be considered a prospect but hasn’t had much time up in the Bronx in 2018. Frazier could eventually become a mainstay in the Yankee Stadium outfield, but if he could be a major piece for one of the higher level pitchers available this year, Cashman should move Red Thunder.
Thairo Estrada, Infielder
Thairo Estrada, who is currently in AAA with the Railriders, is listed as the Yankees eighth-best prospect. He is 22-years old and has played second base, shortstop and third base. However, there are roadblocks are each of these positions.
The Yankees current infield is filled with young players that don’t seem to be going anywhere. Torres is 21, Didi Gregorius is 28 and Andujar is 23. This has even managed to cause trouble for established big leaguers like Brandon Drury and Neil Walker. Drury is stuck in AAA despite his rehab assignment finishing and Walker has trouble getting at-bats at-bats. If proven players at the major league level have problems beating these guys out, how can someone who is unproven do it?
With that being said, the Yankees should look into moving Estrada as they simply don’t have a place for him in the near future. Had he maybe been 19 or 20-years old then perhaps he would have a better chance at sticking around long-term.
Billy McKinney, Outfielder
As mentioned earlier, the Yankees have a stacked outfield. While Florial has a chance to earn a spot when he is big league ready, Billy McKinney, the Yankees 16th overall prospect, is big league ready now and there is no spot for him.
McKinney did make the Opening Day roster, but a lot has changed since then. This should make trading him a lot easier. He is already 23-years old and has proven himself enough to make a big league roster. But there is just nowhere for him now.
This, like with Estrada, comes back to age. While 23 is still young, it is too old to keep someone toiling away in minors despite them being ready for more than that. Another team could use him for their outfield and the Yankees should see to getting him on a new squad.
Chance Adams, Starting Pitcher
Chance Adams should be the most valued prospect the Yankees part with this season. Adams is 23-years old and the Yankees fourth overall prospect as well as 67th in all of baseball.
As of June 19, Adams is 2-2 with a 4.96 ERA this year at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Between a rough year thus far and scouts doubting he can handle pitching in New York, there are reasons Yankee fans have yet to see him in the major leagues.
However, this may not phase other teams. The Yankees might see him helping them in the near future, but a team with lower expectations and approaching a rebuilding phase may want to use him as an end of the rotation guy or convert him to a bullpen role.