The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline came and went yesterday and it was the quietest deadline in years for the Yankees. Despite being connected to plenty of players in the weeks and days leading up to 4 PM yesterday, including almost every big name pitcher, they ended up making just the one move to pick up Dustin Ackley. Since there aren't a lot of trades to talk about, I figured I'd expand the deadline analysis to the whole roster and look at what other things the Yankees did to try and bolster their roster for the stretch run.
- But first the Ackley trade. I didn't have a strong feeling about it one way or the other when it was announced on Thursday, and I still really don't. At a high level, it makes sense for the Yankees. They traded from their 2 sources of greatest prospect depth and upgraded a part of their Major League bench. That's not a bad move.
- Until you start to break down the player they acquired. Ackley, once one of the top prospects in baseball, has never come close to reaching his expected potential in the Majors. and he's been on a downward slope this season. He was hitting a pretty lame .215/.270/.366 when the Yankees acquired him and there isn't anything about his offensive profile that sticks out in a positive way. He doesn't hit for average, doesn't hit for much power, and doesn't draw enough walks to be an on-base asset.
- While that doesn't sound like something worth acquiring, it's worth noting that Ackley is still only 27 years old and has good career numbers hitting in Yankee Stadium. He also hit .270/.300/.459 in July and had a .732 OPS in June, so the Yankees must feel like they're adding someone who isn't as bad now as his overall numbers indicate and someone who will be a good fit hitting in YS3.
- There's also the added defensive flexibility that Ackley brings. He can play all 3 outfield spots, second base, and first base, and he can play all of them better than Garrett Jones could. That plus his superior offensive numbers to Jones' make the upgrade an obvious one.
- As for what the Yankees gave up, it's a personal bummer to see Ramon Flores go just because I've always liked him more than most. He's an underrated all-around hitter and a better defender than he gets credit for. He was also never going to break in for any meaningful time with the Yankees, nor was the perennially disappointing Jose Ramirez, so good for them that they get a chance to go somewhere where they can do that.
- However disappointed you may be about the Yankees not adding any pitching help, you have to give them credit for sticking to their guns. Most of the big name targets they were in on were asking for Judges and Severinos and Birds in return. The Yankees were adamant that those players were untouchable and they kept their word on that. For once, they really do seem committed to getting younger and rebuilding their roster core from within.
- Which brings us to the few additional roster moves they did make this week. Diego Moreno has taken over the long man relief role and Chris Capuano has been DFA'd and reassigned to Triple-A after their respective performances on Tuesday night. Who knows what to expect from Moreno long-term, but Capuano finished with an ERA of almost 7 before he got cut. Anything better than that is an improvement.
- Bryan Mitchell is also back in the Major League 'pen as additional swingman support, and Luis Severino will be up next week to take over Michael Pineda's spot in the rotation. Cash explained yesterday that they've been planning for this and there will be no innings limitation on him, but we'll see how things go and what the lay of the rotation land looks like when Pineda comes back. I can already hear the statement from Hal later this month about Severino and Pineda being the "real" deadline acquisitions. Whatever.
It is a bit of a letdown that the Yankees were this inactive at the deadline. They're back in AL contention again, leading their division, and there were obvious areas for improvement. To not address them via the trade market in any way speaks to the Steinbrenners' interest in their bottom line over wins and losses, which always frustrates fans. That said, it is exciting to see the braintrust finally commit to holding onto their top prospects and preparing for a long-term invigoration of youth. We've already seen a ton of rookies this season, we're going to get to see Severino now, and there could be more on the way when rosters expand in September.
At the end of the day, the Yankees did make themselves better this week before the trade deadline. They're 6 games up with 60 to go and that's a good spot to be in. Hopefully the few small moves, the promotion of Severino, and the eventual return of Pineda is enough to propel them back into the postseason.