Proclaiming teams to be “winners” of anything but actual baseball games is usually silly and worthless. Sure, the Cardinals were way more successful with Lou Brock than the Reds were with Ernie Broglio. The Yankees probably didn’t miss Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon and Marty Janzen much while David Cone was winning them World Series games in the Bronx. And teams like the Red Sox, Angels, Marlins and Blue Jays have taken home quite glitzy prizes in recent winters.
But “winning” a trade, or a specific time period that has nothing to do with actual on-field play? What’s the point?
Sure enough, here I am, proclaiming the New York Yankees to be the winners of the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline.
No, it’s not because of their acquisition of .217 hitting Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners; which was their lone trade of the deadline that saw them swap less-than-prospects Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez for the 2nd overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. In fact, I view them as the winners (champions? victors? MVPs?) of the deadline because they did nothing of real note.
They certainly tried to, however. Yankee tailors were more than ready to fit David Price or Cole Hamels for pinstripes. GM Brian Cashman was hard at work coming up with potential packages to send to either of their respective teams. Unfortunately, deals for both aces took place quickly, well before the deadline, and without the Yankees
Going further in-depth, the Yankees acquired neither Price nor Hamels due to their unwillingness to trade their top prospects – notably Dominican fireballer Luis Severino, sluggers Aaron Judge and Gregory Bird, and speedy (70 SB in 91 Single-A games!) shortstop Jorge Mateo. After years of forking over boatloads of young talent to acquire proven Major League stars, the Yankees had decided that enough was enough.
And who could possibly blame them? The Yankees had lacked a fruitful farm system ever since the Core Four were just four prospects with some upside. The last decade-plus has seen Yankee teams with atrocious depth and absolutely no one available in the minors to even eat innings or throw up a Mendoza Line at the plate. Now, they possess some of the best young talent in the minors – players on the brink of making it to the Majors and staying there for the foreseeable future.
Not to mention the Yankees’ current 57-44 record, good for a sizable lead in the AL East. This is by no means a team in dire need of an upgrade. Of course, with Michael Pineda and his elbow heading to the disabled list, they certainly could’ve used another starting pitcher, but no where in the fine print did it say that said pitcher had to come from outside of the organization.
So, enter Severino. The 21-year-old righty had posted a sparkling 1.91 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 61.1 innings in 11 Triple-A starts since his promotion from Double-A in late May. Cashman announced minutes after the 4pm EST trade deadline passed that the Yankees had “acquired” Severino from their Triple-A counterpart…for absolutely nothing! What a steal!
I’d even go as far to say that it’s more likely than not that Severino pitches almost as well, if not better, than any pitcher the Yankees could’ve brought in. Couple that potential with what the Yankees would’ve had to part with had they gone down the Price/Hamels route, and you’re truly looking at a risk-free, painless upgrade.
The Blue Jays may be thrilled to have Price, but they’ll wince every time Daniel Norris goes out and dominates for the Tigers. And if he doesn’t? They’ll still wince with the thought of what could have been had Norris stayed in Toronto, whether the Jays re-sign Price or let him walk right out the door in free agency, with no draft pick compensation to be had.
There’s always a price to pay (pun unintended but remaining) when making a trade, no matter how small. By not making a big trade and calling up Severino, the Yankees spent next-to-nothing to upgrade their bench and absolutely nothing to potentially vastly upgrade their rotation, all the while keeping their Baby Bombers in their baby pinstripes.
Therefore, the Yankees managed to keep both their present and future very bright and took home the 2015 Trade Deadline Championship Belt.