Written by Joel Norman of Sports Heaven
The New York Yankees aren’t messing around. They are officially rebuilding.
Sure, their payroll is still the second highest in baseball, but general manager Brian Cashman has finally realized that the 2016 postseason is not written in the stars for the Yankees.
In the past week, Cashman has traded two relievers, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, along with outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltran. In those trades, the Yankees have acquired a lot of no-name players. No-name for now.
Three of the prospects that the Yankees acquired over the past week all appear in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list. Outfielder Clint Frazier (22), shortstop Gleyber Torres (24), and pitcher Justus Sheffield (93) were not Yankees a week ago, but now are a key part of the franchise’s future.
Recently, MLB.com re-ranked the top 10 farm systems in the league. After missing the cut in the preseason, the Yankees jumped up to second on the list, only behind the Milwaukee Brewers. MLB.com has Frazier, Torres, and Sheffield as the Yankees No. 1, 2, and 7 prospects, respectively.
It’s remarkable that the Yankees got three players of this caliber from only two trades. Torres was acquired in the Chapman deal with the Chicago Cubs. With Chapman headed to free agency after the season, the Yankees likely would have had to overpay to keep Chapman if they had kept him after the trade deadline. Instead, they leave that issue for the Cubs and instead bring in their shortstop of the future.
Somehow, the Yankees managed to steal both Frazier and Sheffield from the Indians. Cashman made the trade on Sunday, while the Indians were awaiting Jonathan Lucroy’s decision to waive his no-trade clause and join them or not. Cashman caught the Indians at a desperate time; surely they did not want this trade to fall apart either. While Miller does have two more years left with Cleveland, New York will happily give up a closer for an impact arm and an outfielder likely to join them as soon as next year.
Notice that the Beltran trade has hardly been mentioned in this article. The loss of Beltran will hurt the Yankees offensively for the rest of 2016. One of New York’s three All-Stars this summer, Beltran is hitting .300, including .343 since June. His 22 home runs still lead the Yankees, though he is no longer a member of the team.
The biggest problem with Beltran is that he is 39 and a free agent after this season. Though he is having a fantastic year, the likelihood of the Yankees willing to commit more money towards him was slim. Instead, they flipped him rather than lose him for nothing.
The big return in the Beltran trade with the Rangers is pitcher Dillon Tate. Though he does not appear on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list, Tate was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Yankees haven’t made a top 10 pick in a draft since selecting Derek Jeter sixth in 1992. While comparing Tate to Jeter is unfair and unjustified, the point remains that the Yankees have acquired an incredible, young talent and gave up an aging player that can only contribute as a designated hitter.
While the trade deadline is a thing of the past, Cashman can still rid his team of more big names. As of noon on August 3rd, Alex Rodriguez remains a Yankee despite making $21 million this season while hitting .204 with nine home runs.
Remarkably, the Yankees have a player that manages to make more than Rodriguez and play worse than him Mark Teixeira makes $23.125 million this season yet hits .195 with nine home runs. Cutting him in addition to Rodriguez is becoming more and more likely with each passing day.
Additionally, Cashman could still be interested in making other trades. While most trades tend to occur before the non-waiver deadline, Cashman still could find a way to flip other players before September 1st, the waiver trade deadline. Catcher Brian McCann is the most likely trade candidate, given his 15 home runs and remarkable health at his physically demanding position. If New York can get three top 100 prospects and a former top five draft pick in exchange for Miller, Chapman, and Beltran, imagine what they can get for McCann.
Cashman has learned his lesson. He cannot build a championship squad by willy-nilly signing big name free agents. He must re-develop the core of the Yankees with organization-developed talent. When the Yankees won four championships in five years from 1996 to 2000, they did with Jeter, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera all leading the way. Cashman hopes that Frazier, Torres, Sheffield, and Tate can be a part of a new dynasty when they all arrive.