Five and half weeks remain until the non-waiver trade deadline, and the Yankees needs were eminently on display in this past weekend’s series against Baltimore. What’s on the shopping list? In no particular order: Second baseman — check. Third baseman — check. Outfielder — check. Starting pitcher — check. Problem is, with the exception of maybe two or three clubs, nobody looks like a seller at the moment.
The longer the Yankees wait to find replacements or upgrades for Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, and Vidal Nuno, the lesser the impact on the team’s record at year end. Obviously, the Yankees may only wind up filling one or two of these holes. However, if they could find a way to do so as soon as possible, they may be able to eke out an extra win or two compared to maneuvering in late July. Who knows how the playoff races will stand in September, but looking at how tight they are currently, just one win might make all the difference.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the Yankees improve externally now. There are too many teams that are in the hunt, or at least think they are in the hunt. In the American League, all but two teams are within five games of a playoff berth, and in the National League, only three teams are more than six back in the loss column. If some teams don’t fall out of it soon, we’re headed for quite the seller’s market.
A strong seller’s market is never in any buyer’s interest, of course, but it’s exceptionally bad for a team like the Yankees. The farm system is average at best, relative to the other 29 clubs, making it difficult for Brian Cashman and co. to impress any potential trade partner with prospects. So not only does the scarcity of sellers drive prices up, but it also may drive prices out of the Yankees’ range. Simply put, the Yankees may not be able to match offers of rival clubs for trade targets.
The good news is that the Yankees aren’t in danger of falling out of the race. Are they flawed? Yes, but so is every other team in contention. No divisional opponents look capable of leaving the Yankees in the dust by July 31, and the Wild Card is as open as it gets. Given the state of mediocrity in the game right now, the Yankees can probably get away with waiting until the end of July to wheel and deal.
Still, the improbability of addressing needs now could cost the Yankees a playoff spot considering the proximity of so many teams with similar talent levels. Each marginal win is vital given where the races project to head, meaning all of these clubs should be doing everything in their power to add talent. That’s created an insatiable market that will probably prevent anyone, including the Yankees, from dealing now in hope that the picture will be clearer in a few weeks. As fans, we can reasonably yearn for immediate upgrades, but such demands will likely go unsatisfied.