Heading into this week, I was planning on profiling teams that are all but certain to be sellers come July, and determining whether or not the Yankees would match-up well in a trade. At this point, however, it seems as though the Yankees should be damn close to acknowledging that they should be sellers - or, at least, one would hope. Each step forward is followed-up by two steps back, and the team continues to be frustratingly inconsistent in all facets of the game. And so it's time to stop pretending that this season will end in something other than another solid draft pick and an eye to the future.
A bit over a week ago, E.J. suggested trading most every asset that wouldn't be a factor in the next contending Yankees team. I will not be so bold, for the simple fact that I don't see that happening. However, I will say that the team has two clear-cut trade pieces that have to go in Carlos Beltran and Aroldis Chapman. Today, even knowing that my trade proposal sucks, I'll try to figure out where Beltran could fit into another team's plans, and identify who the Yankees could target. Chapman will be another story for another day, given that he fits pretty much anywhere.
The two major caveats with Beltran are his no trade clause and his lack of defensive value. He has to approve a trade to fifteen teams (though we do know that his list does not include the Indians, Nationals, Royals, Cardinals, Rays, Tigers, and Dodgers), and he should be a DH-only - but desperate times do call for desperate measures, I suppose.
In the American League, I can identify four potential contenders that could use help at DH, and have been rumored to be interested in making moves - the Royals and the White Sox.
The Royals currently have Kendrys Morales and his .205/.268/.335 slash line at DH, and the team has been hit hard with injuries. Third baseman Mike Moustakas is likely out for the season, and left-fielder Alex Gordon and his replacement Brett Eibner are on the DL, as well. Beltran represents a massive upgrade at DH, and could also fill-in as needed in the outfield corners. The latter may not be ideal for a defense-oriented team like the Royals, but the flexibility doesn't hurt.
As per John Sickels, the Royals have plenty of prospects in the C+/B- range, and that's the range that the Yankees could probably look into. I've been a big fan of RHP Miguel Almonte for quite some time, and he is exactly the sort of high-risk, high-reward type that I would target.
The White Sox are a bit better-off at DH, with Avisail Garcia batting a less pathetic but still subpar .255/.309/.378. The abrupt retirement of Adam LaRoche gave the team some money to burn this season, and the Padres are picking up about 80% of James Shields' salary this year. Beltran would likely be a DH-only in Chicago, as the team is set in the corners with Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton; that being said, center-field Austin Jackson has been hurt and ineffective, and Eaton can play there in a pinch.
Their system is fairly thin, but they do have some interesting prospects. Trey Michalczewski could be the third-baseman of the future, and Jordan Guerrero and Tyler Danish are in that Adam Warren/David Phelps mold.
Shifting to the outfield, the Indians have a clear need with Marlon Byrd suspended for the season and Michael Brantley hurting once again. They were a popular trade rumor target in the off-season, with the Yankees need for pitching and the Indians purported depth. That depth still exists to some degree, though Cody Anderson forgot how to pitch and Mike Clevinger has failed to impress, and I could see the Indians moving Trevor Bauer in the right deal. Double-A pitcher Adam Plutko might be on the table in such a deal, as well.
The Giants may be a fit, as well. Hunter Pence is out for at least eight weeks, and Gregor Blanco is a bit overstretched as an everyday player. They don't have any real depth in the upper minors, either, barring a breakout from an older prospect like Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson. And, for whatever it's worth, they're familiar with Beltran due to his stint there in 2011.
I am not sure how well the Giants match-up as a trade partner, though. Their system has legitimate depth in back-of-the-rotation types, and I just can't quite Kyle Crick as a high-risk, high-reward type. I also like Hak-Ju Lee as a potential 2B or SS - but I don't know that the Yankees would make a move for that position unless it was a clear upgrade.
Outside of these teams, I am not sure where the Yankees could turn to deal Beltran. The Tigers LF situation is terrible, but they signed Justin Upton to a big deal and I can't see them pulling the plug just yet. The Astros need help at DH, but they seem more likely to sell than to buy at this point. And the Mariners have a bit of depth, and their outfield defense is already a bit subpar (and Nelson Cruz isn't moving). That doesn't mean that it's these teams or bust - we're a month-plus away from the deadline, and a lot can happen between then and now.
So long as Beltran stays healthy, though, I think he's movable. And if he keeps hitting this well, a team may be willing to make room for him.