The Yankees' big-league roster looks exactly the same after the MLB trade deadline as it did when the day started. The team did make a very minor move, adding minor league lefty Alfredo Garcia from the Colorado Rockies, but they did not add any pitching to a rotation that looks dangerously shallow. That doesn't mean that the club can't still improve., though.
Instead, the Yankees will have to improve from inside the organization if they want to win the World Series. Here's how the Yankees can still get better without surrendering any talent in the meantime:
Call up Deivi Garcia
What was true earlier Wednesday morning is still true now: the Yankees are serious World Series contenders, but do not have a championship rotation. The team seems to be prioritizing the bullpen, but the Yankees will also need to add arms there too - without any external help, the bullpen arms will be worn out from overuse by the time October rolls around.
Why not give Deivi Garcia a shot? He's the No. 1 prospect in the organization and has rocketed through the system. His stuff is electric, and he could help the Yankees in a limited bullpen role, a la Joba Chamberlain in 2007. This would keep Garcia's innings in check and give the Yankees' pitching staff a shot in the arm that it desperately needs.
Call up Clint Frazier
Now that the Yankees didn't trade Clint Frazier, it's time to stop letting him toil in Triple-A. With Luke Voit out for the foreseeable future, there are reps to be had at designated hitter. Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin are great backups, but now that the Yankees still have Frazier (however shocking it may be), they must use him.
Frazier hasn't played a Major League game since the middle of June, but he's still seventh on the team in home runs, eighth in RBI and sixth in OPS. Frazier is one of the best hitters on the team, and now that he's here for the stretch run, he needs to play.
Rely on the bullpen
From a strategic standpoint, Aaron Boone will have to rely on his bullpen more than ever as the season rolls into October. While avoiding overuse will be crucial, the Yankees' rotation isn't good enough to compete blow-for-blow with the Astros' super-rotation in the playoffs, especially with Zack Greinke landing in Houston.
The Yankees' postseason rotation consists of Masahiro Tanaka (4.78 ERA), Domingo German (who has never thrown more than 123 innings), James Paxton (4.72 ERA) and one of J.A. Happ or CC Sabathia (combined 5.02 ERA) - they're definitely going to have to rely heavily on their relievers.
Boone was criticized last postseason for leaving his starters in games too long. That cannot happen again with the Yankees' bullpen arguably being the best in the league this year. Everyone from the big guns (Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Chad Green) to potential call-ups (Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga) will be used often from here on out.
If the rotation continues to toil, the Yankees could turn to the "opener" (starting a game with a reliever) in the postseason. The team is 9-0 in bullpen games, which could be a good way to maintain effectiveness while monitoring the innings of German, Garcia and potentially Luis Severino.
While the first three items on this list are things the Yankees can tangibly do, this last one is up to chance. However, it may be the most important. The Yankees won't go anywhere unless they get healthier. Calling players who return from injury "trade deadline acquisitions" isn't entirely accurate, but the potential returns of Severino, Dellin Betances, and Giancarlo Stanton would undoubtedly make the Yankees a better team.
When fully healthy, this Yankees team is just as good on paper as the Astros and Dodgers, and maybe better on any given day. While it's rare to ever be fully healthy, the returns of the aforementioned players would give the Yankees the services of their best starter, a top reliever and a 40-home run hitter. After having those players sidelined for almost the entire year, the Yankees are counting on the boost that'll come from their arrivals.
Instead of giving up prospects at the trade deadline in hopes of a championship ring, the Yankees can still achieve their ultimate goal by combining the best of both worlds. The team can call up its top prospects and let them play, while also banking on the impending returns of three top players.
Not trading for more pitching baffled many baseball pundits, but fans should hold their judgments until after the season ends. The Yankees may end up coming out all the wiser if their prospects and injured players can work together to take the place of a few overpriced deadline rentals.