Baseball's non-waiver trading deadline has come and gone, and it's easy to say that this was one of the best trading years in recent memory. I remember sitting at my computer on July 31, 2013 waiting for deals to happen, with almost nothing, not even rumors, coming out. This time, however, there seemed to he something big happening every hour throughout the day -- and yes, I'm including the Jim Bowden fiasco in that.
Anyway, Brian Cashman and the Yankees were pretty quite throughout the day until about the last 30 minutes, then they made a pair of trades right before the 4 p.m. buzzer, picking up Stephen Drew from the Boston Red Sox and Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
My thoughts on the day and the deals the Yankees made.....
1. Entering Thursday, the Yankees had about a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN.com. With this team it's hard to say whether the moves they made actually make them a playoff team, but rather, are the Yankees a better team? Yes, absolutely. Adding Prado and Drew upgrade the Yankees, easily, on both defense and at the plate. Drew, because Derek Jeter is still alive and well, will take over for Brian Roberts as the full-time second baseman for the rest of the season -- Roberts, by the way, was designated for assignment, or at least he will, by the Yankees. Drew has never played second base before in the Majors, but his natural talents and athleticism beat out those of Roberts', and thus he'll probably be able to play the position just fine. Prado, normally a third baseman, can also play second base and shortstop, but Cashman told reporters yesterday that he'll mostly play in the outfield. That'll glue Ichiro Suzuki to the bench, where he should be and hit better at during the early part of the season before Carlos Beltran got hurt and forced Ichiro to play the outfield full-time.
2. This sets the Yankees up to have a better infield defense again next season. Prado is signed for two more years after this season for another $22 million -- which is a good price, in my opinion -- and they still have Mark Teixeira for two more seasons, at least. Jeter, if you haven't heard yet, is retiring after the season leaving the Yankees with a hole at short, and I'm still a firm believer that Alex Rodriguez has played his last game in pinstripes. Both Drew and Chase Headley are free-agents after the season, meaning the next couple of months are sort of a 2015 audition for both of them, and some people don't realize that. If the Yankees don't like what they see from them for the rest of the season -- although Headley is already proving himself with the bat, and his defense is better than everybody else that has been trotted out there since the A-Rod days -- they don't have the bring them back. However, should both Drew and Headley be back in pinstripes next season, a Headley-Drew-Prado-Teixeira infield core ain't bad, and far better than what the Yanks have had this season.
3. Honestly can't say I saw either of those moves coming, and never even thought of them as possibilities. I mean, the Yankees and Red Sox haven't made a trade together since 1997, so who could have seen that coming. And I thought that if the Yankees were going to bring in anybody else to play right field, it would be somebody with a little bit more power -- someone like Josh Willingham, Alex Rios, or even Marlon Byrd, who the Phillies were apparently asking too much for; in the end, though, none of those players even moved -- but Prado works for now, and more importantly, it gets Ichiro on the bench. Win-win.
4. I don't know who, but I thought that Cashman would be able to find himself another starter. The Yankees were apparently in on the David Price talks, but I guess that Tampa wasn't felling good about moving him within the division, and that, along with the price tag -- which might I say, was pretty low, it seemed -- kept him out of the Bronx. There was some talk about them possibly going after John Danks, but I guess nothing else got very far in that. Cliff Lee was probably going to be the pitcher that they would look at going into August; it was pretty clear that he would clear through waivers once the Phillies decided to go that way with him, but last night's re-injury of his elbow all but take him off of the table for the Yankees not just this season, but maybe going into the offseason, too. Bummer, I was kinda hoping he'd finally end up in the Bronx.
5. Speaking of pitchers, the Yankees might be able to make it to the finish line this season without having to add another starting pitcher through the trade market. Michael Pineda will finally begin a rehab assignment, as he take the mound for Triple-A Scranton on Sunday, officially starting his rehab clock. My guess: if everything goes well -- and that's a big 'if' with Pineda because he seems to suffer another setback every other week -- we could see him back in the Majors in about three weeks, and certainly by the end of August, giving them a big upgrade there. Masahiro Tanaka is going to see a doctor early next week, I believe, and we'll find out then if the plasma shots in his right elbow have taken. If so, I would assume that he'll finally get to start up his throwing program, and if all goes well there -- again, this is a pretty tricky situation when dealing with the ace's elbow -- we might see him back in the bigs sometime near the middle-to-end of September, putting him right in the rotation for the final weeks of the playoff race, and possibly giving them a big boost into postseason, should the Yankees get there in Jeter's final campaign.
6. Overall, I thought that Cashman, who just happens to be in the final year of his contract and is expected to be re-signed this winter, did a great job of making marginal trades without having to give up his best prospects. I mean, he managed to swap Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy, got Chase Headley for a struggling Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula (low-risk, high-reward move), finally upgraded second base with Drew by sending an injured Kelly Johnson to Boston (seriously, how did that move happen?), and only sent Peter O'Brien to Arizona for Prado (loved O'Brien, but realistically, there is no place for him on the big league roster now and in the next couple of years; they sold high on him, and it's alright).
Let's see, what else........oh.
7. This might end up having no effect on the Yankees in the end, but I was thinking that it's a big deal the Yanks will be able to go the final two months without having to deal with Jon Lester and John Lackey in Boston anymore. The Yankees still have to play all seven of their games against the Tigers this month, and that pitching staff will likely give fits, but still, with September being play against only AL East teams, not having to face those starts against could be key. The AL East, with all of the trades and injuries, is pretty hard to predict at this point. The Orioles might be able to keep their lead in the division -- the Yanks play them seven more times. The Blue Jays didn't do anything at the trade deadline and are still beatable. And the Red Sox and Rays are still bottom of the division teams after,especially after Thursday. September is going to be fun and sad at the same time -- because, you know, it's Jeter's final month.