Considering the news on Gardner’s soar elbow yesterday, prepare yourself for bad news today. The Yankees will have a better idea of the significance to the left fielder’s third set back in recovery this season. With Gardner out indefinitely, the team has already started exploring the outfield trade market. Right now, the big name connected with the Yankees is Shane Victorino, a 3-4 month rental from the Phillies. Cashman’s history of trading for rentals in recent years provides a short-sighted explanation for this trade, but I find the chances of trading for Justin Upton much larger.
The problem with trading for Shane Victorino is the cost. Although the outfielder is in the middle of his worst offensive year yet, it will still require a top prospect or large package to pry him away from Philadelphia. The Phillies have the option to keep Victorino on the team to attempt an improbable comeback, but also to keep him until the end of the year to earn draft pick compensation once he hits free agency. Trading the outfielder now would only make sense if they could obtain a package around the talent of a first round pick, assuming the Phillies would be willing to offer him a $12M-$13M contract after this season. This doesn’t seem too ridiculous considering his strong 2009 and 2011 seasons, as well as his hot streak since the allstar break where he’s currently 6 for 16 with a double and three triples. If the Yankees ended up trading this type of talent, they would not see the same draft compensation under the new CBA. With Victorino hitting .245/.311/.379 in 2012, the price would be ridiculous for a guy having an awful season.
With a 2014 budget ahead of the team, it makes more sense to trade prospects for a cheap young player that would be a long term solution. Aside from losing Brett Gardner this year, the Yankees will lose Nick Swisher to free agency after this season. The 24 year old Justin Upton is under contract until after the 2015 season, at a team friendly price, and with the upside of a yearly MVP candidate. There is a need on the team for a long term outfielder, for a young bat, for speed, and for budget relief. Justin Upton is a solution, but the cost is high.
The Diamondbacks are looking for three major league ready players of which they’re asking for a third baseman, shortstop or top-of-the-rotation starter. As far as starters go, the Yankees could certainly contribute Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and/or Manny Banuelos in a package, along with some top-50 positional prospects in Gary Sanchez and/or Mason Williams. A deal like this would take a big bite out of the Yankee farm system.
The Diamondbacks are close to contention however, and it would likely take a more major league ready position player to get a deal done. But there is still some reason to think the teams matchup on players since Diamondbacks’ GM Kevin Towers is very familiar with the Yankees farm system, as he spent 2010 as a special assignment scout for the team. With that said, it’s not out of question to expect a third team in a deal, similar to what happened during the Curtis Granderson trade.
In the rumor mill, the Yankees have checked in on Upton, but they also haven’t. The mixed messages sounds more like a sneaky Cashman cover up, than disinterest. The final hurdle in any deal is Justin Upton’s no-trade clause, which includes the Yankees, and some have thus called any deal a longshot. To include a team like the Yankees and Red Sox on a no-trade clause is more often an attempt to gain a voice in negotiations. The Yankees will answer to Upton’s demands if they are serious enough to offer the haul necessary to obtain him. When it comes down to the questions of getting a deal done, be it teams matching up or a no-trade clause, if Brian Cashman wants Justin Upton, he’ll get Justin Upton.
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