When was the last time you could say that the New York Yankees ‘won’ the offseason?
Not only have they managed to fill a gap that was there for all to see with the acquisition of ace Gerrit Cole, they also saw their two biggest rivals get significantly weaker and fall (almost) to pieces with the Boston Red Sox trading away Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers with coach Alex Cora losing his job and the Houston Astros being caught as cheaters during the 2017 season which saw AJ Hinch lose his job – just like Cora – and GM Jeff Luhnow get fired from his position.
There aren’t many other ways that the Yankees could get better this off season but while they seem to have their business in order, there is one lingering trade in the air that Brian Cashman could well swoop in to take the Yankees to another level.
Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in baseball. You could argue that Kris Bryant is, but you’d have to put together a strong argument for the Cubs man, with Arenado, defensively and offensively, just being superior. As is the case with most star players who are made available, the Yankees are always placed into the conversation regardless of how realistic or unrealistic the deal may be.
If you’re a star, you’re linked with the Yankees, it’s as simple as that. But how likely is a deal for the third baseman? Let’s take a step back and try to figure out what a deal between the Yankees and the Rockies would look like…
The Rockies will not give up Arenado easily after the third baseman signed an eight-year, $260 million extension in February of last year.
Everyone who is going to try and tempt him away will know that it’ll take a haul to get him, but at least that’s a starting point. We know that the Yankees will have to give up a lot and that’s fine, because they have a lot to give up.
You have to weigh up two things. One, is Andujar fully fit and has he fully gotten over his injury worries and two, can Urshela recreate his great stat line from last season (.314 batting average, .899 OPS, .534 SLG)?
Both are capable at third, both have shown that they have talent but they haven’t shown enough in sample size to warrant anyone thinking that this is sustainable. That isn’t to say that they aren’t sustainable, just that we have not seen enough.
So you add either one of Andujar or Urshela to the deal – for the sake of this hypothetical trade, let’s say the Rockies demand Andujar – and see what else the Yankees have laying around.
Clint Frazier has experience in the Major Leagues and knows his way around the bases and can be a valuable asset to the Yankees in any trade because while Frazier is very talented, it just hasn’t clicked for him in pinstripes. Again, this isn’t saying he is a bad player, but he could probably do with a fresh start in a less hostile environment and playing in a ball park like Coors Field will probably help him out massively.
So that is your two major league pieces in the trade and maybe you could throw in about two more prospects or one prospect and a few picks because if the Yankees plan on being at the top end of the baseball world for the next few years, the picks mean nothing.
Jasson Dominguez, Clarke Schmidt and Estevan Florial are what could be considered as three untouchable pieces in the Yankees farm system, so maybe you could throw in pitcher Luis Gill or Maikol Escotto, a versatile infielder who could, in time, prove to be a great addition to most MLB teams.
So, the trade so far looks like Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Luis Gill and/or Maikol Escotto plus one or two draft picks, first or second rounders. That seems like a fairly reasonable haul and it looks like something that the Rockies would accept. You get two ready made Major League hitters who, if kept healthy and if they focus solely on their game, could be great players, two young farm prospects and picks that could be used to rebuild the system if they want to scrap their current side.
But while it’s a deal that the Rockies would probably say yes to, there’s one party that might not even want to do it. While this entire piece has been about the Yankees and how they could put together a package, the question does remain of why would the Yankees commit themselves to Arenado’s contract?
Cashman has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to go over any tax thresholds and despite the move for Giancarlo Stanton which meant the Yankees took on a huge contract (it also meant that they got an National League MVP for a relatively cheap price when you consider how much Mike Trout signed for and how much Bryce Harper got in free agency in 2019), the Yankees have the future to consider.
They’ll take one look at Mookie Betts and understand that in a few years, they will have to pay Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar (if he isn’t traded, of course) and they’ll need that money from somewhere. If they sign Arenado and his huge contract, then Torres, Judge, Sanchez and Severino will have their futures put into doubt. Cashman would rather build through the new set of Yankees instead of the old school method of signing big name free agents and getting shot of ‘Baby Bombers’.
Arenado is superb, of course he is, but will Cashman and the Yankees want to take that contact on? No, you’d guess not.
But it is something to consider. The Yankees will naturally be linked with many trade targets and many free agents and of course, that’s natural.
It’s the New York Yankees, what do you expect?!
But let’s all take a step back and understand that while signing Nolan Arenado for two good young hitters who have question marks over their durability both on and off the field, financially it doesn’t make sense. The contract goes against the plan Cashman and the Steinbrenners have and if we’re honest, it’s probably a better strategy than anything else.
Would signing Arenado be amazing for the Yankees? Of course it would, but bare these things in mind. They don’t need Arenado, they don’t need to take the hefty contract and they don’t need to lose the assets that they could in this trade. It would be a great story and almost certainly set them up for World Series success, but it isn’t something that they need to do.