The Yankees biggest needs right now are obviously at the corner infield positions. With Adrian Beltre firmly in place and Mitch Moreland poised to start at first base for the Rangers that leaves Mike Olt as the most likely to be dealt if the two teams can work out a trade.
Olt would make a lot of sense for the Yankees. He can play first, third, and right field. He’s only 24-years-old, he is the No. 22 best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America and he’s coming off a .288/.398/.579 campaign down in Double-A last season.
The Rangers meanwhile are looking for starting pitching which is why it makes sense that they scouted Joba. We know that the Rangers are not afraid to turn a reliever into a starter. They did it most successfully with C.J. Wilson, but have also done it with both Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz in the past.
I’m not entirely sold on the idea that the Rangers would trade Olt though, especially to the Yankees. One other interesting name that has been out there as potentially on the trade block is 24-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Now the Rangers have denied interest in trading Andrus, but the rumor is that with top prospect Jurickson Profar ready for the majors and Andrus, who is a Scott Boras client, set to hit free agency after the 2014 season the time could be right for a deal.
It’s hard not to like Andrus. He’s not a big time slugger, he has averaged a .286/.349/.378 line in his career, but he comes with speed and exceptional defense that makes him a 3-4 WAR player each year.
Mark Teixeira might not play at all this year, but he will be around for three more years after this. Alex Rodriguez is a total question mark, but has four more years on his contract after this season as well. That’s why Olt may not be the best fit for the Yankees long term.
Derek Jeter, however, is technically in the final year of his deal (he has a player option for next season). A healthy Jeter is currently one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball. Throw in a lingering ankle injury and Eduardo Nunez may be their best option at shortstop right now. That’s a scary thought, especially if you have season tickets behind first base.
The thing is, Jeter and Nunez are going to get a lot more at bats in 2013 than Teixeira or A-Rod. Trading for a shortstop now is not as necessary, for the immediate future, as getting a corner infielder. For the long term though it seems like shortstop is the much bigger need though.
Now the big question to me is how much do the Yankees believe their own hype? Right now their chances to make the playoffs, even with a strong pitching staff, seem iffy. The front office still insists that this is a championship caliber team. That’s likely just rhetoric meant to keep fans buying tickets. If they realize the truth though, a deal with Joba as the headliner, that would obviously require more prospects, for a shortstop could be best for the long term health of this club.
Either way, the Yankees seem intent on keeping Joba in the middle relief role which, let’s face it, isn’t very valuable one way or another. With him talking about wanting to be a starter one year away from free agency and the Yankees unlikely to make Joba a qualifying offer that would net them a draft pick when he leaves. It seems to me that, as unlikely as it is, they should be aggressive in finding out if Texas is willing to make a deal for Andrus or Olt.
• Derek Jeter got a cortisone shot in his ankle and he might miss Opening Day. It sounds like a DL stint might even be possible.
• Alex Rodriguez remains a target of MLB’s Biogenesis probe. The newspaper that broke the Biogenesis story won’t turn documents over to MLB though so it seems like a long shot that anything will come of this.