The Yankees aren’t getting a ton of criticism for sitting out last week’s MLB trade deadline, but it was surprising to see this “winners and losers” post on ESPN that listed them among the losers of the deadline.
Looking at their roster, the Yankees actually did the right thing.
New York needed (and still need) starting pitching. Toronto needed pitching, and they got David Price. Kansas City needed pitching, they got Johnny Cueto. The Yankees declared their top prospects off limits, and got nothing (despite a late charge for Craig Kimbrel). Heck, even the Mets got a little better, right?
But look at those other teams.
Toronto hasn’t been in the postseason since Joe Carter touched home plate in 1993. They spent lots of money over the past couple of years building stacked, powerful rosters, but haven’t even sniffed the wild card. Their best players are at the age where they could decline quickly.
Kansas City, the textbook definition of a small market team, probably won’t be able to keep everyone on their team together for long due to financial constraints. They suffered 29 dark Octobers before dialing back the clock in 2014. They have a roster with that postseason experience under their belts. If they had either one or two more pieces or hadn’t run into Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in an even year, they could have pulled off a championship. They’re back on top of their division this year, but how long will it last once players start leaving?
The Mets are a little different. They’re coming off a long run where their owners were financially constrained, and now a restless fan base wants to at least see a playoff berth. But those other two teams are thinking World Series or bust.
And you know what? They are right to think that. Their windows are not wide, and may already be in the process of shutting, maybe for a decade or more.
Which brings us back to the Yankees. Their roster has performed well, this year. Everything has gone just right. But they were notoriously streaky in the first half.
Could you see the Yankees’ bats going cold and putting up six or seven runs – total – in a five-game playoff series? It’s more than conceivable, if that series happens in the wrong week, it’s likely.
Could you also see the current roster catching fire and putting up six or seven runs per game over a playoff series? And, if everything goes just right, making a World Series run on grit and the strength of their bullpen?
Brian Cashman probably saw those almost equally likely outcomes, too. If cold bats could sink your October so quickly, why trade any of the top four or five prospects – all of whom the Yankees feel are big league regulars who could contribute significantly as early as 2016 – for three months of Price or Cueto? If those young players work their way into the lineup alongside veterans over the next few seasons (while some of the more cumbersome contracts come off the books) the Yankees could find themselves at the beginning of a window, rather than at the end.
Truthfully, the Yankees’ deadline activity should have been called a draw. They probably couldn’t have made a deal that would have put them in an appreciably better position for 2015 – and they didn’t screw up 2016 or 2017 by trying.