MLB trade rumors: Yankees’ 4 deadline priorities

MLB trade rumors: Yankees’ 4 deadline priorities

Brian Cashman press conference
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman answers questions during his year end press conference at Yankee Stadium. 10/1/13 (John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger)

Brendan Kuty | By Brendan Kuty | The Star-Ledger

on July 30, 2014 at 6:05 AM, updated July 30, 2014 at 6:06 AM

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ARLINGTON, Texas — it’s getting down to crunch time. TheYankees have until 4 p.m. Thursday to make a move.

General manager Brian Cashman has been relatively quite lately, but there’s no reason to believe Cashman’s stance has changed: He’s said he wants to make moves to turn the Yankees into playoff contenders.

His priorities should be as follows …

1. A bat

The Yankees could use a top-flight starting pitcher over anything. I’m not in the “Masahiro Tanaka Is Coming Back” camp. Who knows with Michael Pineda. But it’s doubtful the Yankees have what it takes to acquire a big arm, such as the Phillies’ Cole Hamels. Forget the Red Sox’ Jon Lester and the Rays’ David Price, by the way, because they’re not dealing their aces to New York.

So that leaves the Yankees with two options: Look for a second-tier starter or a bat. Let’s go with the latter.

The Phillies’ Marlon Byrd might sound the most attractive right now, considering his 20 homers, but he’s got another year left on his deal and where he fits in 2015 a question — Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury aren’t going anywhere. So a rental could make more sense.

But who? If Beltran were healthy, the White Sox’s Adam Dunn might make a good choice, but instead they’d have a DH logjam until Beltran can prove he can play the field. The Rangers’ Alex Rios doesn’t bring a ton of power, but he could be a righty compliment to Ichiro Suzuki in right field. The Twins’ Josh Willingham feels like the ideal fit, considering his 10 homers and .361 OBP. But the Yankees won’t be the only team pursuing the 35-year-old.

The point: There are lots of options and it’s likely Cashman has them all charted. It should be his top priority to make one work.

2. Starting pitcher

The Yankees will try to nab a starter even if they realize their goal of gaining a bat because why not? There are plenty of trade market pieces better than Chris Capuano.

The White Sox’s John Danks is the name that appears the most in the rumor mills, but he’s not even ideal, considering he’s owed almost $30 million in 2015 and 2016 combined and it’s not like he’s much more than a No. 3. The Padres aren’t in a rush to trade Ian Kennedy, an ex-Yankees prospect having a solid season and with a contract that only takes him through 2015, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports. And the Post’s George King says the Yankees aren’t looking to acquire AJ Burnett from the Phillies.

So, who could they get? It might come down to whoever teams dangle to the Yankees at the last second, hoping to catch them desperate.

3. Reliever

The Yankees bullpen has been solid most of the season, but there are reasons an addition would be welcomed. One, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren — their top performers — have been worked harder than anybody in the pen and might need their innings limited. Two, an upgrade over Chase Whitley would be preferable. Three, who can’t use another reliever? You could never have enough. Scott Atchison of the Indians — he’s 38, but only has a year left on his deal — could be a target.

4. Second baseman

The Yankees could use an upgrade over Brian Roberts, but it’s hard to see this happening unless it smacks Cashman right in the head, a la Leonys Martin. The team seems content with Roberts’ low average and questionable-of-late defense, especially with Triple-A’s Robert Refsnyder potentially the “second baseman of the future,” as the GM recently said. Mark this as a last priority.


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