Happy Sunday. Including today, we’re three days out from the trade deadline–August 2 at 6 PM eastern. While the Yankees have already traded for Andrew Benintendi–whom I identified as a target way back–it’s worth noting that August 2 is my seventh wedding anniversary, so it’d be nice of the Yankees to get my wife and me a present, like a starting pitcher and/or a reliever or two. And the best part is that you all would benefit, too. Not really sure why they can’t do this! Anyway…
Starting with the Benintendi trade, I’ll say what I said on Twitter. It’s a good trade (with a caveat). He’s better than Joey Gallo and that’s really what the bar was for acquiring an outfielder. With a high-contact approach, Benintendi continues the Yankees’ attempt at lineup diversification. Again, good thing. The Yankees have a lot of on-base and power types who could be on in front of Benintendi to take advantage of his contact skills. However, as Mike Axisa noted in the RAB Patreon right after the trade, we’re a BABIP regression away from having an outfield version of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the lineup. For now, though, it’s a lineup upgrade that the Yankees could surely use.
The cost of the trade also helps make this a good deal. While it always hurts to give up three prospects at once (Beck Way, T.J. Sikkema, and Chandler Champlain in this case), these ones aren’t likely to be players the Yankees will miss in a few years, especially if this season ends the way we all want it to end.
One big addendum to this trade is that, as of now, Benintendi has not gotten his Covid vaccination. You’ll remember that he and nine other Royals were not allowed into Canada for the team’s series against the Blue Jays a few weeks back. He’s implied that he’s “open” to getting the vaccine, whatever that means, and he does have time. The Yankees’ series in Toronto isn’t until the end of the year, so by my count (14 days out), he’ll have to be fully vaccinated by September 11 to be eligible to play there for the regular season and any potential playoff series. It’s worth noting that the Jays themselves were apparently in on Benintendi, too, so maybe he really is open to getting his shot(s) , as he should be. If he happens not to get it, it’d be damn near impossible to not downgrade the trade’s evaluation. The whole point is to get better for the stretch run and the playoffs, and if he can’t play in one of or both of those, well…Hopefully it becomes a moot point.
With Benintendi, the Yankees are a better team than they were without him. However, they still need to make some tweaks to the roster going forward. With Luis Severino out, it’s imperative for the Yankees to get a starter to bolster the rotation. Number one target Luis Castillo is gone to the Mariners for a package of prospects that, apparently, the Yankees couldn’t or wouldn’t match. I’ve seen people suggest it may’ve been a slight overpay for the M’s but who can blame them? Their last playoff appearance came when I was a freshman in high school; they should be going for it. Castillo would’ve been perfect for the Yankees, but if the Reds liked what the Mariners offered more, well, so be it. Of course, as luck would have it, Castillo will be making his Mariners debut against the Yankees this coming week.
Now that he’s off the board, the Yankees’ focus will likely turn to Oakland pitcher Frankie Montas. They’ve also been linked to Noah Syndergaard and Jose Quintana. There was a report yesterday that the Giants are even willing to listen on Carlos Rodon. Any of these four would pass the “better than Domingo German” test, and that’s really what the Yankees need. Even when Severino returns, one of them could help deepen the rotation and give the Yankees plenty of post-Gerrit Cole options for a stretch and playoff run rotation. Montas and Rodon would be preferable to the other two, but I wouldn’t scoff at Quintana or Thor.
Additionally, the Yankees have been linked to (another) reunion with David Robertson, now of the Cubs. Given the injuries to Michael King and Chad Green, this move would make a ton of sense. He’s an established, experienced reliever used to playoff runs and high-leverage spots. It would likely behoove the Yankees to bring him home.
All of it, of course, is price-dependent, but with the position the Yankees are in, how close they are to a title run, I’m more than a little willing to pay higher prices. Flags fly forever, folks.
The Yankees are an excellent team with a big lead and virtually guaranteed playoff odds. That doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t make tweaks and improvements. This, more than any other recently, is the year to strike hard at the deadline and go for it.