The Yankees have plenty of trade chips in the minor leagues, but at the Major League level there really isn’t much other teams’ would be interested in. Usually it’s because contracts are too big for other teams to take on, but even the players with reasonable contracts are hard to trade and get fair value back in return.
Three players the Yankees could potentially deal at this year’s deadline and get something of value back for are Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson. No, it would not be a popular move dealing any of these players, but they are indeed their best Major League chips.
I’d like to look at each of these guys individually and see what each of them can offer a prospective team, what their trade value might be (Bad, Good, or, Great), and the possible teams that could use these guys (Note: when I list interested teams, I am referring to teams that have a hole to fill or a need in the particular position that the individual plays).
David Robertson: David is throwing the baseball like has never seen before. In his past 80 innings thrown, he has given up eight earned runs. Honestly, think about how consistent he has been. He was better than Mo. Will he keep this up? Probably not, but it’s possible. He will eventually give up more runs. But have you seen a set up man this successful? I mean, he was an All-Star last year. If there was ever a time to get a lot of value out of him, it’s now. He’s still young and he’s in the first year of arbitration eligible contract ($1.2 million/year). He’s at the height of his value and it isn’t possible for him to really get any better. He strikes guys out often, to the tune of a career K/9 of 12.3.
Trade Value: Great
Potentially Interested Teams: Angels, Chicago Cubs, Boston, Oakland
Brett Gardner: He too is in the first year of his arbitration contract and he’s costing the Yankees $2.8 million this year. While he takes pitches, it’s yet to be seen if he can get on base for back to back consistent seasons at the top of a lineup. But we do know he’s been very productive for the Yankees these past couple of years and is a tremendous defensive asset. I’ve touched on how valuable he is before. Would he warrant big name talent? Not really, but combined with what the Yankees have, he is a good trade piece.
Trade Value: Good
Potentially Interested Teams: Kansas City, Milwaukee, Atlanta
Nick Swisher: Nick is having a fantastic year so far and, knowing his abilities and skill set, he will continue to produce. His contract is up at the end of this year and since the Yankees want to trim payroll, it doesn’t look like Nick will return for 2013. An idea is to dump his remaining salary, or eat it, and trade him before the free agency hits. The reason behind this would be to trade him to a team that has an interest or need in an everyday outfielder and get something back in return because such a team could offer a better deal and not allow him to reach free agency.
Trade Value: Good
Potentially Interested Teams: Atlanta
At the end of the day, the team that keeps coming up my mind is the Atlanta Braves. They have an abundance of young starting pitching and have a need for a solid outfield bat. As Chipper Jones will be retiring at the end of this year, they have a problem regarding what to do with Martin Prado. The Braves want to play Juan Francisco, however he is not an everyday 3rd baseman, at least not yet, and Martin Prado could be, but he is playing left field and is not an everyday left fielder. So, signing a decently priced bat, i.e. Nick Swisher, is something they can afford to do. They cannot afford to lose him to a team that will pay handsomely, and this is where a trade would do the Braves wonders. In all honesty, young pitchers like Julio Tehran and Randall Delgado are more likely to be traded than stud arms such as Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor.
In order to lock down a guy like Swisher it may be reasonable to look to a three team trade involving Swisher to the Braves aN. Robertson to a team like the Cubs who are in desperate need of bullpen help. I don’t think Rafael Dolis can throw the 7th, 8th and 9th and I don’t know much about the Cubs farm system other than what I’ve read, but I think they could benefit from a move now as well as the Braves.
This is all speculative and probably far from a blockbuster deal like the one for Granderson, but if we are holding firm on lowing payroll to $189 million then it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to shop Swisher, Robertson, or Gardner. If we are going to lose Swisher, why not try and get something for him while sweetening the pot with the others?