The Yankees have been unusually quiet on the trade front

The Yankees traded Sonny Gray last January. (Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0)

In recent offseasons, the Yankees have preferred trades over free agency to bolster the team’s roster. Sure, there were some noteworthy free agent signings sprinkled in, such as Adam Ottavino and DJ LeMahieu last winter, but the Bombers have made at least one significant trade in each of the previous five offseasons. Take a look:

  • Pre-2019: Traded for James Paxton, traded away Sonny Gray
  • Pre-2018: Traded for Giancarlo Stanton, traded for Brandon Drury
  • Pre-2017: Traded Brian McCann
  • Pre-2016: Traded for Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, and Aroldis Chapman
  • Pre-2015: Traded for Didi Gregorius and Nate Eovaldi

This winter, the Yankees have made two trades: Nestor Cortes to the Mariners and Chance Adams to the Royals. Neither of the moves were earth-shattering.

Considering the Yankees’ behavior in recent years, it’s a little peculiar that the organization hasn’t made a big trade yet. Perhaps this offseason’s lone big splash will prove to be Gerrit Cole, though there’s still time for Brian Cashman and another team’s GM to strike up a deal. And based on rumors, Cashman’s inability to finalize a deal hasn’t been for a lack of trying.

It’s pretty clear that the Yankees would like to trade JA Happ in a salary dump. Alas, there hasn’t been a taker just yet. Teams that struck out on marquee free agent starters may have some interest in Happ as a consolation prize, though his 2019 performance and contract status doesn’t exactly make him an exciting trade target for other clubs.

So Happ is seemingly the most likely player to be moved in a notable trade involving the Yankees, though maybe the Bombers have a trick up their sleeves. Francisco Lindor, anyone? I’m sure the Yankees have been in touch with Cleveland, though one would imagine that such a deal is a longshot. Other teams, namely the Dodgers, appear far more motivated to acquire the shortstop.

But perhaps the crux of the Yankees’ trading activity is that the team has no glaring needs. Does any part of the roster require an upgrade or are there any hole to fill? Not really. Last year, the Yankees needed a starter and traded for James Paxton. This year, the team needed a starter again, but instead of a trade, they signed Cole.

Anyway, all of this is a long way of saying that it’s not a big surprise the Yankees haven’t been active on the trade front in spite of recent history. There’s still a little more than a month until spring training for a trade to go down too. Perhaps Happ will ultimately move or another small trade or two will occur. Someone’s gotta go for to clear space for Brett Gardner on the 40-man roster, after all. But other than that, the current group is probably what the Yankees will bring to Tampa in February.


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  1. RetroRob

    Potential reasons:

    1) The third luxury tax level is not providing the flexibility to make additional moves. Like it or not, even the big-payroll teams do not want to willingly cross that line, which is why the Yankees are looking to trade Happ. If not for the third level, Happ would be perfectly fine to keep as the 5th starter.

    2) Unlike past years, this team is more complete. They’ve moved past the building stage.

    3) Timing is not right. They can make incremental improvements not just in February and March, but throughout the year.

    4) Cashman is waiting for the trade market to pick up. For example, teams losing out on Donaldson may then turn to Andjuar. Teams who lose at Castellanos may turn to Frazier. Cashman is waiting for that part of the market to heat out, assuming he has any intention of trading either.

  2. Sherwood÷ Tanenbaum

    I’ve been Yankee fan over 60yrs. They need left hand bat.another bullpen guy outfield depth.. I’m woody

  3. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    They’ve made trades in the past because it was cheaper than buying, Derek. This year Hal finally cashed in all those coupons he clipped for the past decade and they made a big signing. And a lot of these recent trades are getting rid of junk they never should have gotten in the first place. Happ is the latest example. Nobody wants him and for good reason.

    Bozo the Clint should be packaged in a deal for a superstar reliever. We don’t need him with Gardy, Stanton, Judge and Tauchman. And Hicks will be back mid season. Of course we’re just one Stanton nose bleed away from him needing season ending surgery. I’d re-sign Cameron as backup OFer/clubhouse greeter. Target Bill Hader from the Brewers in a trade because we know we can’t trust Ottavino in big games. In every postseason game he came in he either walked Nelson Cruz or he gave up a dinger. Green ran out of gas and shouldn’t be used as an opener anymore. Kahnle is a wildcard. Lasagna needs to step up and be the next Ramiro Mendoza. The loss of Dellin can be mitigated with the acquisition of another quality arm.

  4. bardos

    Hombre, maybe Hader

  5. I was thinking about a possible Lindor trade…why not? You get him for 2 years and cement yourself as the best team in the league in my opinion. But what does a trade for Lindor look like?
    Andujar, Frazier or Florial and Deivi? I figure that would at least get you in the door to the negotiating room. (MTPS)

    • vjg

      I think a lot of the high end trade market is waiting on the Dodgers to make a move. I’m not suggesting that Betts, Bryant, and Lindor all will be traded, but I feel the LAD are the target team for most of these sellers. First, their farm system with Lux, May, and Ruiz is really attractive, but secondly, they may offer financial flexibility for teams like Boston and Cubs (whenever the appeal goes through, Bryants market should heat up). Say Boston could wash themselves from Price while still getting a good return for Betts? That opens up a ton of options for them. I’m aware of what’s reported but if Cleveland could ever pry Lux from them, I personally think that’s the best potential player among the teams checking in on Lindor.

      So I think until the Dodgers make a move things remain quiet.

      • Kevin J Schappert

        LA has made it clear they’re not trading Lux. But I’d be surprised if they don’t make a deal

    • John

      They’re already the best team. Why trade 4 of your future stars, from different field positions and at low cost for a Shortstop that you really don’t need.

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