Last time, we talked about how the Yankees need to embrace the reality that 2021 is likely to not be a playoff season for the pinstripers. With that decided, let’s assume that the team decides to take my advice and sell. The next step is deciding who to sell.
Aaron Judge isn’t going anywhere. He would bring back a king’s ransom, to be sure, but he’s also the team’s franchise player and one of the ten or fifteen best players in baseball. He’s essentially irreplaceable. Gerrit Cole, D.J. LeMahieu, and Giancarlo Stanton, whether by dint of talent or contract (or both) aren’t going anywhere either. Luke Voit would probably be an attractive trade chip, but his value is down from injuries and besides, he has more value to the Yankees than another team as a relatively cheap slugging first baseman. Jordan Montgomery would pique another team’s interest, but as a young left-hander who won’t hit free agency until 2024, he, too, is fairly irreplaceable.
So who would the Yankees trade?
Four players, in particular, make sense. First is Gio Urshela. Urshela is already 29 years old and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2024, which makes him attractive to another team that needs a third baseman who can both play good defense at the hot corner and wield a potent bat. The move would bring back immediate help, as several contenders - the Nationals, Brewers, Atlanta, and Phillies - require help at third base. The Phillies likely wouldn’t deal Alec Bohm for Gio Urshela straight up, despite Bohm’s dreadful year, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. Urshela for Tyrone Taylor could also be an interesting trade; Taylor would fit well in Yankee Stadium and provide a needed center field upgrade on Brett Gardner but is blocked by a full-when-healthy Milwaukee outfield.
Urshela is a good player, but he’s not irreplaceable for the Yankees. The Yankees could slide LeMahieu to third base full time, inserting Rougned Odor at second base for the rest of the season or returning Gleyber Torres to his more natural position to see if that helps his bat awaken. It would also make the Yankees players in what looks to be the best class of free agent shortstops in years.
The Yankees could also look to move Domingo Germán. As the only team with two active players who were suspended for domestic violence, the Yankees have an ignominious distinction they should seek to address. I won’t discuss the on-field aspects of trading Germán; if you’re reading this blog you know the appeal he will but shouldn’t have.
Then there’s Chad Green. The emergence of Jonathan Loasiga makes Green somewhat expendable, and Green’s strikeout rate has notably dropped precipitously this year. Still, Green is a top-end reliever in a market where his skills will always be in demand, and whilst acquiring another Gleyber Torres likely isn’t in the cards, several contenders badly need relief help. Green would immediately be the best relief arm on the Phillies, and the Nationals, too, could use back-end game help. Would the Phillies deal Nick Maton for Green?
Other, more minor trades could be made: Tyler Wade, for example, could go to a team that needs relief help; Clint Frazier might go to a team like San Francisco that could use the outfield depth. The White Sox could use both Frazier and Green, and perhaps would be willing to send a lottery ticket like Micker Adolfo. But making moves now doesn’t have to be a full-blown fire sale, and it doesn’t mean that the team is rebuilding. Quite the contrary: dealing players now could replenish the team for a run as soon as 2022.