Disclaimer: There is a key at the bottom of the article for unspecified stats and acronyms. Some of the stats used can be quite advanced, so please check the list beforehand. Also, these stats were taken on June 15th.
July 31st is rapidly approaching for all thirty major league teams. Also, known as the date of the trade deadline, baseball fans everywhere are starting to think about how their teams will be a part of the action. The Yankees have historically been a huge part of the trade deadline, and this year is no different. Despite being in first place (as of June 16th), and one of the best teams in baseball, there are still one area that the Yankees can improve. However, one of the areas that the Yankees should be content with is their offense.
According to teamrankings.com, the Yankees are fourth in Runs/Game (5.41), sixth in Home Runs/Game (1.59), third in Runners Left in Scoring Position/Game (2.96), and seventh in Walk % (9.7%). These stats describe a team that scores a lot of runs (many via the home run), capitalize when there are runners in scoring position, and can work the count to their advantage. In addition, all the starters (besides Brett Gardner) for the 2019 Yankees are above average hitters. Furthermore, the Yankees offense will only get better as they just added the feared slugger Edwin Encarnacion in a trade with the Mariners. Encarnacion fits the mold of the 2019 New York Yankees. He has 21 HRs (1st in the AL), a triple slash line of .241/.356/.531 good for an OPS of .888. In addition, the .115 difference between AVG and OBP shows he gets on base very well. Also, he has a .290 ISO, .370 wOBA, and a 139 wRC+. All these stats indicate he will be a dynamic, offensive force.
Surprisingly that’s not even half of what’s to come. The dynamic duo of Giancarlo Stanton (ETA June 18th) and Aaron Judge (ETA June 29th) are returning from injury to spark the lineup. In 2017, the two combined for 111 Home Runs, and a 9.3 fWAR. If you include Didi Gregorius in the group of returning injured players (he returned on June 7th), the trio combined for 138 homers and a 13.9 fWAR.
Additionally, taking away all the starters will not make too much more of an impact on the Yankees in 2019 because their offense looks a lot stronger. These players include Mike Tauchman (86 wRC+, 31.0 K%, .701 OPS), Kendrys Morales (.059 ISO, .566 OPS, 63 wRC+, -0.7 WAR), Tyler Wade (52 wRC+, .510 OPS, 30.5 K%, -0.2 WAR), and Miguel Andujar (.271 OPS, -36 wRC+, -1.1 WAR). As a result, the Yankees have no need to add another hitter.
However, an argument can be made that the Yankees should worry about their defense. According to ESPN, the Yankees are 29th in Errors (56), and tied for 27th in fielding percentage (.978). Essentially, the Yankees defensive players that range from good to outright awful. Aaron Judge (4 DRS, 17.6 UZR/150 in 2019 at OF), Giancarlo Stanton (5 DRS, 17.7 UZR/150 in 2018 at OF), DJ LeMahieu (5 DRS, 10.2 UZR/150 at 2B), Gleyber Torres (0 DRS, 12.5 UZR/150 at 2B), and Brett Gardner (0 DRS, 5.2 UZR/150 in OF) all represent great defensive players. Gio Urshela (-3 DRS, 0.1 UZR at 3B), Didi Gregorius (-2 DRS, 5.2 UZR/150 in 2018 at SS), and DJ LeMahieu (1 DRS, -5.4 UZR/150 at 3B) all represent decent defensive players. Lastly, Luke Voit (-6 DRS, -15.8 UZR/150 at 1B), Edwin Encarnacion (-1 DRS, -2.5 UZR/150 at 1B), Gary Sanchez (81.8 SB%, -2 DRS, -5.7 FRM), and Clint Frazier (-6 DRS, -19.2 UZR/150 at OF) all represent bad defensive players.
However, Urshela and Didi are both highly regarded defensively despite defensive metrics. To add on, LeMahieu is a stud fielder that can also play solid defense at any infield position. Also, Sanchez reduced his passed balls (18 to 4), and wild pitches (45 to 11) from last year. The combination of Encarnacion and Voit at first base is a black hole. But, if there is any position to be bad defensively, it is first base. Meanwhile, Clint Frazier has been sent to the minors because of Encarnacion’s arrival, poor defense, and probable trade bait. As a result, the Yankees may not see a lot of Clint’s defense for the rest of 2019.
The Bombers are stacked with outfielders (Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks), infielders (Urshela, Gregorius, Torres, LeMahieu, Voit, Encanarcion), and a stud catcher (Sanchez). The only true backup is Austin Romine. The Yankees have too many good players, and with their insistence on carrying thirteen pitchers on a twenty-five-man roster, there is not a lot of space to add a stud defender. All in all, the Yankees have a decent defensive team, which can definitely hurt them in the playoffs, but hopefully all their star power can make up for their defense.
So far, we have covered why the Yankees are offensively sound, and despite them being a decent defensive team at best, they cannot really do too much about it. However, one area that has not been covered is their pitching. First let’s start with the bullpen.
The Yankees have a fearsome foursome of lights out relievers. Headlined by closer Aroldis Chapman (12.27 K/9, 18/20 in save opportunities, 1.40 ERA, 1.99 FIP, 1.1 WAR), they are followed by three star set up relievers Zack Britton (76.0 GB%, 0.64 HR/9, 2.26 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 0.5 WAR), Adam Ottavino (11.40 K/9, .183 BAA, 1.80 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 0.3 WAR), and Tommy Kahnle (13.16 K/9, 52.5 GB%, 2.70 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 0.4 WAR). Any reliever with 1+ WAR is above average. As a result, fact that the Yankees top four relievers should all surpass this mark (if they have not already) shows the depth of their bullpen. In addition, Dellin Betances should be able to return after the All-Star break, and he was phenomenal last year. He had a 15.53 K/9, 0.95 HR/9, 43.9 GB%, 2.70 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 1.7 WAR in 2018.
Furthermore, the Yankees have Chad Green as well as Jonathan Holder. Green has not been pretty this year in the typical relief role (10.45 K/9, 2.61 HR/9, 8.27 ERA, 5.92 FIP, -0.1 WAR). However, since he has become an “Opener” (a hard-throwing relief pitcher that starts the game, but only lasts 1-2 innings) the Yankees have gone 5-0 during that span. In addition, several times Green has stuck out the side when he has opened games, which is no easy feat. Meanwhile, Jonathan Holder has been decent (9.92 K/9, 1.22 WHIP, 4.68 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 0.6 WAR). He can usually be a really good reliever, and is often put in high leverage situations with runners on base. Maybe starting clean innings with no one on could be a better role for him. Still, if Green and Holder are the worst of the Yankees one or two inning relievers, they really have nothing to worry about. They also have Stephan Tarpley in Triple-A as well as Ben Heller, who’s coming back from injury sometime in June or July. Those two can replace them and hold their own if Holder and Green are struggling.
The Yankees should be fine with their long relievers too. David Hale and Nestor Cortes have pitched very well in the long relief role. The Yankees might have six starters at some point this year (Tanaka, Paxton, Sabathia, Severino, German, Happ) and might very well have seven if they add a starter. As a result, one or two of them can slide into the bullpen. Then there are backup options such as Jonathan Loaisiga when he comes back from injury, Chance Adams, and the struggling Luis Cessa.
That being said, the Yankees are just fine with their bullpen, and if they really want to they can go after 2020 free agents like Alex Colome (White Sox), David Hernandez (Reds), and Jake Diekman (Royals) for a small price. If they wanted to get a really high profile 2020 free agent reliever such as Will Smith (Giants), or Ken Giles (Blue Jays), it will cost a little more, but nothing that will break the farm system. Anything else is essentially overkill for the Yankees.
The old baseball adage says, “You can never have too much pitching”, and that certainly holds true for the Pinstripes’ pitching staff. Their starting pitching consists of Masahiro Tanaka (83.0 IP, 1.18 WHIP, 3.58 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.8 WAR), James Paxton (49.0 IP, 11.76 K/9, 4.04 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 1.6 WAR), and the highly anticipated second half return of ace Luis Severino (19-8, 191.1 IP, 10.35 K/9, 3.39 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 5.5 WAR in 2018). Those three when they are on the top of their game, and especially with the additional adrenaline in the playoffs can be lights out. Also, ranking high among that trifecta is Domingo German (70.0 IP, 9.90 K/9, 3.86 ERA. 4.04 FIP, 1.5 WAR) who was just put on the ten day Injured List (I.L.) with a left hip flexor strain. However, the injury might keep him out until July, and the Yankees might place an innings limit on the young right-handed pitcher.
Then CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ round out the back end of the rotation. In short, both CC (57.0 IP, 2.37 HR/9, 4.42 ERA, 5.98 FIP, 0.1 WAR) and Happ (75.1 IP, 2.03 HR/9, 4.66 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 0.6 WAR) have struggled this season. The duo are not bad four and five starters, but this is a Yankees team that has not won a World Series in a decade, so the pressure is on to do whatever they can to win. In addition, Paxton and Sabathia have both spent time on the I.L. this season. Also, there is no telling how effective Severino will be when he comes back from his injury, and will not make his first appearance of the year until after the All-Star break. Furthermore, the five main starters have combined for about 5.1 IP per start, which really taxes the bullpen. Therefore, here are the starters that can help the Yankees, as well as their odds that the Bronx Bombers can acquire them.
The Pinstripes have seen Marcus Stroman for years battling against them in the AL East. Stroman, a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, can eat up innings (87.2 IP in 2019), keeps the ball in the ballpark (0.72 HR/9) especially in the hitter friendly AL East, and keeps the ball on the ground (57.5 GB%). The last two stats are very important at Yankee Stadium. He is also a consistent pitcher. In his career, Stroman will not necessarily strike too many guys out (career 7.22 K/9), and runners will reach on base (career 1.29 WHIP), but he does a good job of holding down the fort (3.18 ERA, 3.60 FIP in 2019). All of this leads to 1.8 fWAR for Stroman. In addition, Stroman is a free agent in 2021, and the Blue Jays are unlikely to be competitive this year and next year. Despite being a fan favorite, they should sell high on him while they still have the chance. The Blue Jays can use some young pitching talent, and a first baseman since Justin Smoak be a free agent after this season. Trade offer: SP Jonathan Loaisiga (10.71 K/9, 4.02 FIP in MLB), 1B Ryan McBroom (.958 OPS, 137 wRC+ in Triple-A), and Yankees #29 prospect SP Harold Cortijo (9.90 K/9, 3.23 FIP in Single-A) for Marcus Stroman.
Madison Bumgarner is one of the greatest playoff pitchers in baseball history (despite not pitching there since 2015). He was also a Top-5 pitcher in the NL for many years. Although MadBum is not the pitcher he once was, he can bring value to the Yankees in the playoffs. In addition, he models consistency. Bumgarner eats innings (87.0 IP), does not walk many batters (1.76 BB/9), still can strike batters out (8.69 K/9), and does not give up too many runs (3.83 ERA, 3.89 FIP). Bumgarner’s solid 2019 season values him at 1.2 fWAR. To add on, Bumgarner is in the last year of his contract, and the Giants can use some young players to jump-start the rebuild. Now is the time to trade Bumgarner before it is too late. The Giants may want some star power for the lefty stud, despite him being a half-season rental. Thus, Clint Frazier and a prospect should be just fine. Trade offer: OF Clint Frazier (119 wRC+, .843 OPS during 2019 MLB season), and Yankees #13 prospect SP Frank German (3.83 ERA, 8.03 K/9 in Single-A).
Trevor Bauer has emerged as yet another frontline starter for the Indians. However, with Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber on the I.L., Mike Clevinger just returning from injury, and relying on youngsters Shane Beiber as well as Adam Plutko, Bauer is the de facto ace for the 2019 Indians. In addition, he was a Top-10 in the AL Cy Young last year, and has added on to his success in 2019. He leads the AL in IP (99.1), strikes out a ton of batters (9.88 K/9), keeps the ball in the ballpark (1.19 HR/9), and does not give up a lot of hits (.198 BAA). Out of all the starters on this list, Bauer represents the most affordable quality innings if the Yankees can acquire him. However, the Indians may still try to cash in on Francisco Lindor’s prime, and they still are certainly in the mix for a Wild Card spot. Despite Bauer being a free agent in 2021, they may want to hold on to him as long as they can. Consequently, should the cost conscientious Indians (who are already paying Bauer $13 million this year, and 2020 they will be paying him more) sell by the trade deadline, and want young affordable talent, the Yankees would be an ideal trade partner. The Indians really need outfield help, as well as some pitching depth, so they may want their old friend Clint Frazier back. Trade offer: OF Clint Frazier, SP Jonathan Loaisiga, and SP Frank German for SP Trevor Bauer.
Similar to Bauer, Zack Wheeler might be one of the best pitchers to give affordable quality innings. Wheeler is in the last year of his contract, and the Mets are in a very competitive NL East and NL Wild Card race. That being said, they are certainly not frontrunners to win either playoff slot. Wheeler strikes out a lot of batters (9.79 K/9), is one of the league leaders in IP (94.2 IP), should keep getting better (4.94 ERA, 3.84 FIP), and is one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball (1.8 WAR). Mets fans everywhere would be disgusted to see Wheeler traded to their crosstown rivals, but the Yankees certainly would give up some talent for the coveted starter. The Yankees would have to give the Mets some decent pitching options for Wheeler. Trade offer: RP Jonathan Holder, C Kyle Higashioka (.843 OPS and 108 wRC+ in Triple-A), Chance Adams (7.94 K/9, 3.97 ERA at MLB in 2019) for SP Zack Wheeler.
Tanner Roark was traded to the Reds this past offseason after a tough 2018 with the Nationals, but has certainly rebuilt his stock. He strikes out a lot of batters (9.22 K/9), but also somehow keeps the ball within the park (0.67 HR/9), despite giving up a lot of runners on base (1.41 WHIP). However, advance stats indicate that 2019 is not a fluke as he has a 3.74 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and a 1.6 WAR. The rebuilding Reds will almost certainly trade the right-handed pitcher, and if the Yankees do not want to give up too much, or lose out on the other big names, Roark would be a nice addition. Trade offer: SP Harold Cortijo for Tanner Roark.
Jordan Lyles signed a one-year $2 million deal with the Pirates in hopes to rebuild his stock. Once again, legendary pitching coach Ray Searage (of the Pirates) worked his magic, and Lyles has had arguably the best season of his career. Lyles very well could be the steal of the trade deadline. He does everything right: strikes out batters (9.23 K/9), keeps the ball decently on the ground (42.2 GB%), and the ball stays within the ballpark (0.98 HR/9). His FIP is exactly the same as his ERA (3.64), and his 1.4 WAR makes him one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball this year. If the data driven Yankees, do not want to empty out a somewhat thin farm system, they should certainly go after Lyles. Trade offer: SP Harold Cortijo for SP Jordan Lyles
Matthew Boyd is one of the bright spots in yet another tough year for the Detroit Tigers. He throws a lot of innings (88.2 IP), very high strikeout rate (11.37 K/9), low walk rate (1.73 (BB/9), does not give up a lot of homers (1.12 HR/9), and should only get better (3.35 ERA, 3.01 FIP). Oh he also has an incredible 2.8 WAR. He’s quickly emerging as one of the best pitchers in the American League. In addition, He is under team control until 2023, and would cost a lot from any team’s farm system to acquire the young left-hander. However, he is certainly worth acquiring if the Tigers are willing to trade him. The Tigers would love some pitching depth, could use an OF since Nick Castellanos is a 2020 free agent, and could use a 1B since Cabrera is now sliding in the DH role. Trade offer: OF Clint Frazier, 1B Ryan McBroom, Yankees #3 prospect SP Albert Abreu (8.04 K/9, 0.76 HR/9 in Double-A) for SP Matthew Boyd.
The Field: 6/1 Odds
The field consists of a trio of Cy Young award winners. Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer both are still elite and play on teams that despite probably not making the playoffs are still going for it. They also have lucrative contracts that make them nearly untradeable. Then there’s Corey Kluber who had a rough start to 2019 before succumbing to injury.
In addition, the Rangers actually have a decent shot of getting a Wild Card spot, so it would be hard seeing them trade Mike Minor despite him being a free agent next season. There can also be some other pitchers such as Sonny Gray and Anibal Sanchez that are on the trading block, but the Yankees have better options than acquiring the latter two pitchers.
In short, the Yankees are pretty set offensively, and with their late inning relievers. If they can find some way to strengthen the defense, or add a reliever for the second half that can definitely be beneficial. As for their starting rotation, there are a plethora of pitchers that the Yankees should acquire, and they will most likely acquire one of these pitchers on this list. As a result, the Yankees should only be getting better. Yankee fans everywhere should be in for a fun 2019 season!
UZR/150: A defensive stat where having a number above 0 (replacement level) is considered above average.
DRS: Defensive runs saved. A defensive stat where having a number above 0 (replacement level) is considered above average.
AVG(BA)/OBP/SLG: The triple slash line of Batting Average (H/AB), OBP (H+BB+HBP/PA), and SLG (1*1B+2*2B+3*3B+ 4*HR/AB). MLB average in 2018: .248/.318/.409.
OBP=On Base Percentage
HBP=Hit By Pitch
OPS= OBP+SLG. MLB Average in 2018: .728 OPS
BAA: Batting Average Against
WHIP: Walks+Hits in Innings Pitched. 1.00 WHIP means about one runner gets on from a walk or hit each inning. MLB Average: 1.30 WHIP
HR/9: Home runs allowed per 9 innings
GB%: Ground ball percentage. Essentially what percentage of balls put in play are ground balls.
K/9: Strikeouts per 9 innings.
BB/9: Walks per nine innings
ERA= Earned Run Average: The average number of earned runs a pitcher gives up in a 9-inning game. A 4.15 ERA was league average in 2018.
FIP: Essentially an ERA that’s more focuhed on what the pitcher can control without solely relying on his defense (strikeouts, walks, homers, hit batters). MLB Average: 4.20 FIP
IP: Innings Pitched
SP: Starting Pitching
RP: Relief Pitcher
W-L: Numbers of games won versus numbers of games lost
fWAR: Wins Above Replacement from Fangraphs. For example, If a player has 0.1 fWAR they are worth 0.1 wins more than a replacement level player (0.0 fWAR). During the halfway mark of a season, a starting player with 1.0 fWAR is an average starter.
wOBA: Weighted On Base Average. A more advanced version of OPS where that weighs the various possibilities of getting on base differently. MLB Average: .320
wRC+=Weighted runs created plus. A stat that quantifies total offensive value. A wRC+ of 100 is replacement level, and anything above that is X% above league average (i.e. a wRC+ of 101 is 1% above league average offensively).