The Yankees, going into 2020, do not have a surplus of talent. But they do have tradeable talent they can use to supplement and support their roster…
The main focus of the Yankees offseason is where it should be. Having a Gerrit Cole to lead their starting rotation changes everything.
But championship-winning teams are built by adding smaller pieces. Which, in turn, means subtracting players to gain the ones needed to fill in the puzzle.
Typically, as in this case with the Yankees, the players designated as “tradeable” have value to the team.
But as Brian Cashman argued at the trade deadline last season, “You can’t have everything.”
So, with that in mind, let’s explore three Yankees who are likely to be traded this offseason – despite their impending value to the team.
J. A. Happ- Starting Pitcher
J.A. Happ presents an interesting question for the Yankees in 2020.
Do you mean to say the Yankees do not need starting pitching? And therefore, why would you even consider trading Happ?
Well, as they say, it’s always in the small print. For one, Happ’s hit on the payroll is significant at $17 million for 2020.
But that’s not necessarily the problem, which is that Happ is due another automatically vested option for another $17 million in 2021 if he hits 165 innings or 27 starts in 2020.
Given the fluidity of the Yankees rotation for this year – with unknown contribution coming from Luis Severino (injuries) and Domingo German (suspension) – it can very well be that Happ makes those 27 starts.
But the real question is to what degree can Happ, at the age of 37 continue the masquerade of getting major league hitters out with what (today) amounts to junk?
Moreover, should the Yankees not be looking to bring Deivi Garcia along, with teaching and mentoring as the real inheritor of Happ’s spot in the rotation?
Miguel Andujar – Third Baseman
Miguel Andujar is a classic case of buy low – sell high.
As a home-grown talent, Miguel Andujar is a bonus. He’s only 24, not eligible for arbitration until 2021, and free-agency is a long way away in 2024. What’s not to like?
Especially since Andujar delivered a stellar offensive season in the 2018 campaign, resulting in a second-place finish to Shohei Otani in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Tragedy struck in 2019 when Andujar suffered a season-ending injury before the season was fully underway.
So now, who knows what about Miguel Andujar? Are the Yankees willing to forego his defensive liabilities – with optimism that Andujar is healthy and he can at least repeat – if not exceed in 2020?
Or, do the Yankees stick with Gio Urshela‘s two-pronged attack, believing he did achieve what he set out to do at this time last year – to become a complete player.
Clint Frazier – Outfielder
Other than having him around as insurance, there is no logic in the Yankees holding on to Clint Frazier any longer.
Frazier will not gain value playing in the minor leagues, no matter what numbers he puts up. Barring an injury to Aaron Judge, Frazier will once again not make the team that goes north from Spring Training.
A straight-up one-for-one deal involving Frazier at this point will return very little. But he could be an essential piece in a multi-player deal in which the Yankees include a couple of reasonably high prospects in return for – a Francisco Lindor?
Clint Frazier is still cheap, and his first year of arbitration will not come until 2021. A two-edged sword of sorts, this makes him an attractive player for the Yankees to hold onto for at least the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, Frazier will be treading water at Triple-A Scranton, where his value can only continue its downward trend.
It’s not a now or never situation for the Yankees to trade Frazier, but it’s getting dangerously close to a time when even a 24-year old can’t survive with only potential on his resume.
Yankees shrinking crop of tradeable talent
None of these players is likely to light a fire under opposition teams. But if the Yankees do become successful in the free-agent market, spots on their 25 and 40-man rosters will need to be cleared.
I wish the names Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton could appear on any list of players likely to be traded.
But it appears the Yankees are sold on both, at least for one more trip to an empty well in 2020…