Tuesday, January 31, 2017


With just two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, is it too soon to start thinking about this year's trade deadline?

Not according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and YES Network's A.J. Herrmann.

In Rosenthal's article "5 reasons why the MLB trade deadline will be insane" he describes a perfect storm of situations likely to impact many teams this season that could result in  wheeling and dealing at the July 31st non-waiver deadline "even more frenzied than usual." 

Among them, he lists new qualifying-offer rules, competitive imbalances,  a glut of high-profile players on one-year deals and "all of the big names that are in play but have yet to move."  

"Some executives, in fact, already are weighing whether to make additional moves this offseason, or hold their resources until summer when better players likely will be available," he wrote.

In Herrmann's piece entitled "Why the Yankees should wait until the 2017 trade deadline before making more moves" he directly references Rosenthal's  scenario and makes the case it "will play right into the Yankees' hands" to wait until the deadline to become buyers.

Photo: USA Today
"The youthful aspect of the 2017 Yankees makes it more difficult to make educated guesses about how players will perform, because the sample size of their collective experience at the Major League level is still much too small. But by the deadline, the Yankees will have gotten an ample opportunity to gauge which players appear destined to stick in the Majors, which may become trade assets, and which developing minor leaguers look poised to take a leap.

At that point, MLB clubs will be on the lookout for pieces to add, trades to make, deals to cut, and there are few GMs in the game today more adept at striking at the right opportunity than Brian Cashman. ...One of the five reasons that Rosenthal argued for this year's deadline zaniness is the fact that there are a number of teams who appear to be prime contenders for under-performing and selling. Among those teams are the Tigers, Royals, Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays, Pirates and Diamondbacks -- just to name a few -- most of which possess a number of intriguing impact players the Yankees could pursue."

Now, I'm as big a Yankee homer as you're likely to meet, and I'm always happy to drink the Kool-Aid of patience in the interest of a logical plan. 

But even I know AL Beastmates Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles are unlikely trading partners for the Yankees. 

I'd also point out that Rosenthal's piece lists the Yankees  right alongside those Herrmann lists as "prime contenders for under-performing and selling" but who Herrmann diplomatically omitted from his piece, burying their mention under the delicately worded  "just to name a few" catch-all.

Make no mistake. I'm not buying Rosenthal's idea of the Yankees as trade deadline sellers before  a single pitcher and catcher has reported to the Boss in Tampa any more than I'm buying Herrmann's notion the team should wait until the trade deadline to make more moves.

In fact, I think it's highly instructive Rosenthal's expectation is the Yankees will wait until the deadline to become out-of-contention sellers again while Herrmann, who writes for the team's de facto house organ, embraces the wait-and-see strategy with the precisely opposite objective, perhaps providing a glimpse into some team in-house thinking along those lines.

My take: The reason Brian bagged the most baby bombers for the Yankees' buck at the last trade deadline was because he zigged when the rest of the market was zagging. 

And bully for the baby bombers. I've written here before they're likely to be one of the most stacked minor league teams in history before this season is out and now they even have a cute new alternative logo to herald the historic new era everyone down in Scranton-Wilkes Barre knows is coming.

But if, as Rosenthal suggests, there will be a higher than normal number of teams offering up talent at the trade deadline and an equally higher than normal number of teams in the market to bid on them, it seems to me the best strategy to snag what the Yankees really need most -- some big hairy arms -- won't be to take a number and stand in line. It'll be to step up and make an offer in prospects that can't be refused before the line has a chance to form.

That would really show the fans, the new kids coming up this year and those coming up behind them that this team is all about winning even as it reloads. And if that causes the team's farm system to drop a few spots from its #1 ranking (or #2, depending which list you look at), so be it. Hal can still stay on schedule to meet his precious competitive balance tax threshold next year.

I mean, honestly, how many top shortstop prospects must we hoard while the pitching-starved big club passes on available, controllable blue-chip starters anyway?

Bottom line: I'm encouraged by Herrmann's reading of Rosenthal's deadline scenario as a big-game hunting opportunity for Brian rather than another prospect-picking salary dump. 

I just hope Brian doesn't wait 100 games, as both writers suggest, before he starts pulling the trigger.

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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