Up until about a week ago, the New York Yankees hadn’t decided yet whether to be buyers or sellers at the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline. Principal owner Hal Steinbrenner wanted to hold onto his current players and potentially add a few pieces in an effort to make a run at the second Wild Card spot in the American League while Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wanted to sell and reinvest in the team’s future.
On July 26, New York’s front office finally made the decision to enter into rebuilding mode when the team announced a deal to send closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor-league shortstop Gleyber Torres, minor-league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford, and pitcher Adam Warren. With Chapman being a free agent at the end of the season, this was a major haul for the Yankees in terms of a prospect package.
BREAKING: Cubs acquire closer Aroldis Chapman in 5-player deal with Yankees. The details: https://t.co/sugfeuITy1
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2016
New York didn’t stop with Chapman. On Sunday morning, news broke that the Yankees had dealt pitcher Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor-league outfielder Clint Frazier and minor-league pitcher Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen, according to ESPN. Yet again, the Yankees received two of the Indians’ top two prospects in exchange for Miller.
Lastly, with about an hour to go before Monday’s trade deadline, news broke that the Yankees had agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers that would send Carlos Beltran to Texas in exchange for the Rangers’ No. 5 overall prospect, Dillon Tate, according to MLB.com, and two more minor-leaguers. Tate was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 1, 2016
In the span of seven days, the Yankees have gone from having one of the worst farm systems in MLB to having one of the top two or three all thanks to these three trades. We’ve never seen New York go through this type of a rebuild in the history of the franchise and it’s still a little shocking to see, but it had to be done. With the age of the talent on the MLB roster and the terrible contracts, it was time for the Yankees to go in another direction.
Now, don’t expect New York to go the route of the Atlanta Braves or the San Diego Padres and try to tear it down to the studs and spend a number of years as basement dwellers while rebuilding. They’re still the New York Yankees, and they’re still going to make moves to get better in the offseason. These moves just signal that being mediocre isn’t good enough and it’s time to try a new plan.
Look at the Chicago Cubs. When Theo Epstein arrived at the end of 2011, the Cubs were one of the worst teams in MLB and didn’t have a whole lot to look forward to. Within three seasons, Epstein was able to assemble one of the best rosters in the league through trades and free agent signings, and now has Chicago in prime position to reach the World Series this season.
It may not be next year, but you can bet that the Yankees will look back to this trade deadline as one of the biggest moments in recent memory. Cashman was finally able to get Steinbrenner to focus more on the future than on the present and it should have a major impact on the success of the New York Yankees for years to come.
[Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]