Well that was a pretty wild trade deadline day, no? It started early when Jon Lester went to the A’s, and after an uncomfortably quiet morning the Yankees jumped in and made a few late moves to further upgrade their lineup. They started out looking for starting pitching and some right field pop and they ended up getting another shortstop and a starting-quality utility guy, which doesn’t sound encouraging, but at the end of the day they made themselves better on the field for this season and future seasons and did so without giving up anything of major significance.
I was jotting down notes and ideas on the Yankee moves for most of yesterday afternoon and evening. I know, I live a prettay exciting life. I really couldn’t think of a way to weave them together into one coherent post though, so instead I’m going to take the easy way out and just throw them all together in a random thoughts post. Think of it as the Casual Friday of trade deadline analysis.
- First the players they got. It took a while, almost 2 years and maybe longer than that, but the Yankees finally got their man in Stephen Drew. Not sure what changed his mind from the offseason to now on being open to playing second base and quite frankly I don’t care. The important thing is that Brian Roberts is off to DFA land and Drew is in. Time will tell if he’s capable of handling second base, but as a guy with the natural skills to play an above-average defensive shortstop, I’d like to think Drew can make the adjustment and be even a slight defensive upgrade over Roberts.
- Offensively, I think Drew is going to surprise some people. His overall numbers look bad (.176/.255/.328), but as Katie broke down last night, he’s been better lately now that he’s gotten his belated Spring Training at-bats out of the way. He’s a career .261/.326/.431 hitter who can take a walk and has very real left-handed power that should translate well to the short porch in YS3. If he comes close to replicating that over the next 2 months, he’ll be a huge boost to the bottom of the order.
- Money-wise, this deal worked out really well for the Yankees. They’ll be paying almost all of the $5 mil remaining on Drew’s 1-year deal, but that’s peanuts compared to what they would have been paying had they inked him to a multi-year deal in the offseason. Let’s not forget about the draft pick they would have had to surrender for signing him too, the pick that ended up being Jacob Lindgren. By acquiring Drew now, the Yanks saved themselves tens of millions of dollars and gained themselves Lindgren. That’s not a bad haul.
- As for Martin Prado, he’s not the power bat that Josh Willingham or Marlon Byrd would have been, but he’s a valuable piece to add. .290/.340/.425 career hitter, a comically low 10.7% career K rate, and 245+ games of MLB experience at 3 positions (2B, 3B, LF). The adjustment to right will be a new experience for him, although one that he should be more than capable of handling.
- Prado, like Drew, will help bolster a weak bottom third of the batting order this year, but he’ll also be of use to the Yankees for the next few years. He’s got 2 years and $22 mil remaining on his contract and could be a viable option for second or third base next season. In a sense, he’s like a rich man’s version of what they were trying to get when they signed Kelly Johnson.
- Prado tunes up left-handed pitching (.290/.359/.452 career), but if Joe’s looking to use him as a platoon in right with Ichiro he might want to rethink that plan. Ichiro also hits lefties better than righties, so splitting time with Prado would not be maximizing the potential output of the platoon. The better move might be to let Zoilo Almonte get some starts against righties since he hits better from the left side. Or Joe could forget the platoon plan and let Prado be the everyday right fielder.
- So how about that lineup now? I imagine it will look something like this:
That’s not too shabby. It would be better if Ellsbury-Gardner were 1-2 and Jeter was somewhere down at the bottom, but there’s no sense in wasting time or energy making that argument anymore. The bottom line is that’s a 1-9 with a lot of smart, professional hitters, no easy outs anywhere, and more power than the Yankees have had 4-8 since April.
- Now for what they gave up. Johnson was a great signing in theory and if he would have been allowed to play his regular position of second base more I think we would have seen better production. Injury problems and bench inflexibility combined to prevent that from happening though, and Drew is a better player than him. To make that swap and get the upgrade without any further player or prospect giveaway is a huge win for the Yanks.
- And I know a lot of people have jumped on the Peter O’Brien bandwagon this year and justifiably so. You don’t rank 3rd in all of baseball in home runs behind 2 of the top prospects in the game by accident. His power is very real and it’s going to carry him to the show at some point. What’s also real is the lack of plate discipline, athleticism, and defensive skills that make up the rest of his player profile. He’s a low average, low OBP guy without a position, which makes him expendable and easier to give up. I hope he finds success in the D’back organization, but I’m not shedding a tear over losing him.
- How about Ninja Cash swooping in and making these deals late in the day? All week it was “the Yankees are looking for pitching” and “the Yankees are in the market for a right fielder with some pop” and then…
Stephen Drew. And just as we were wrapping our heads around that trade…
Martin Prado. 2 more unforeseen moves that upgraded positions of need without giving up much of anything. Look at the total breakdown of the moves made in the last month:
That’s 4 proven Major Leaguers all in the middle-to-late parts of their primes for 2 cheap, low-ceiling MiL signings, an injured spare bench part, and 2 low-probability prospects who are each at least 1 year away from contributing at the Major League level. If you as a Yankee fan can’t put whatever Cash hatred you may have aside for 5 minutes and acknowledge that he did a tremendous job this trade season, I don’t know what to tell you.
- In case anybody was wondering, Cash told reporters that Roberts being benched before being DFA’d TOTALLY had nothing to do with the money. It was “all just based on evaluations.” Right.
- Quickly on the rest of the deadline moves. Love the A’s staying in “all-in” mode and going for Lester. They’ve got enough offense to make up for the loss of Cespedes and it’s been pitching that’s been the difference the last few years. Loved even more the Tigers countering by getting David Price. That will be a fun matchup in the ALCS. First team to 3 wins. Not sure the Rays got enough back for him, which was a surprise, and I have no clue what the Blue Jays and Phillies were doing. They could take a cue from Ben Cherington, who was playing chess yesterday while Ruben Amaro sat around shoving checkers up his nose.
There’s no way to call the deadline anything but successful from the Yankees’ perspective. They made their team better in the present and gave themselves options to help in the future. Prado will be great to have around next season and Drew can use these next 2 months as another audition to be Jeter’s replacement at short. If all the other “ifs” surrounding the team weren’t ifs, and if the rotation wasn’t so battered, these moves might have been enough to push the Yankees into the playoffs. As it is, they give them a slightly better chance than they had 24 hours ago.
P.S.- Could not give less of a crap about the Esmil Rogers pick up. I don’t even know why you bother making that move. Is he any better than Chase Whitley or David Huff? Doubtful. It’s not like he’s going to be soaking up Betances’ innings so he can get more rest.