The Yankees were quite active in the trade market this season, as they made more than a handful of deals in the last week.
Despite demonstrating interest and making an offer, the club did not land the big dog of the trade season, Manny Machado, but they were able to solidify the rotation (twice) and add to an already potent bullpen. The Yanks also managed to accumulate the maximum allotment of international bonus pool cash via trades of players with a future fit on the 40-man roster.
Here are my grades for the deals...
Yankees receive LHP Zach Britton from Orioles
The Yankees knew fairly early in the process that ace-like pitchers were either not going to be available this trading season or that the prospect cost would be higher than they were willing to spend. Thus, the Yankees set out to make their biggest strength stronger.
In Britton, the Yankees received one of the games better relievers, albeit one that has been dogged by injuries and has very little work under his belt this season. The Yankees traded three minor leaguers - Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers - each with Rule-5 implications on their resumes and none of whom was good enough to be considered worthy of a 40-man roster spot come December.
Britton adds depth and another potential closing arm if Aroldis Chapman begins to slow further due to right knee tendinitis. In the end, the Yankees could not ignore the upside Britton brings to the club and the impact he and the rest of the bullpen would make in the postseason.
Yankees receive LHP J.A. Happ from Blue Jays
Once Britton was acquired, the Yankees honed in on Happ, who was long at the top of the club's list of middle of the rotation starters.
Happ instantly slots into the No. 3 or No. 4 spot in the rotation, but possesses the upside to be a No. 2 caliber starter behind club ace Luis Severino. Happ pitched himself into the All-Star Game with a stellar first half, but was in the midst of a skid just as trades began to come to fruition. Happ's biggest allure for the Yankees is his record against AL East opponents, in particular, the Red Sox.
Happ, another rental, cost the Yankees Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney, which on its face may have seemed like a bit of an over-pay. However, Drury may have lost favor with the club after withholding information about his medical history with migraines and blurred vision. That, plus the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, made Drury expendable. McKinney would have been a nice depth outfielder, however the organization is filled with competent outfielders.
As far as middle of the rotation starters goes, Happ was arguably the best available for the price the Yankees were willing to spend.
Yankees receive international bonus pool money from Mariners for RHP Adam Warren
Yankees receive RHP Lance Lynn from Twins
We'll take these two together because the moves were complementary.
The Yankees felt that they needed to shore up the depth behind the current starting five even with the addition of Happ. Lynn, who got off to a terrible start to the season, has been much better of late pitching to a 3.74 ERA in his last 12 starts. Lynn is another innings eater, though his main role with the club at the outset of his tenure in the Bronx will be as a reliever, taking over for Warren.
The Yankees could use Lynn on occasion to insert as a sixth starter in an effort to provide rest to the rest of the rotation. With Severino on workload concerns and pitchers like CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka potentially benefitting from an extra day of rest, it makes sense that the Yankees would want a competent hurler like Lynn every so often.
The cost - Tyler Austin and Luis Rijo - is of no concern to the Yankees. What bothers me and lowers the grade of the Lynn deal is the fact that the club has seemingly decided that left-hander Justus Sheffield, the teams' No. 1 prospect, is not an option for the spot Lynn will occupy. In my opinion, Sheffield could benefit from this type of work. Unfortunately, it appears the Yankees coveted a veteran for the job and did not want to pass up the chance to gain more international bonus pool dollars when the Mariners came calling for Warren.
The Yankees set out to add a reliever and a starting pitcher and succeeded in fine fashion with both slots. The club then added necessary depth to the rotation, but was unable to land an outfielder to help fill the void left by Aaron Judge's injury (a move that I maintain was not necessary at the moment and can still happen via an August waiver deal).
Each move the Yankees made came without the cost of a high-ranked prospect and the club decreased the number of prospects that would have potentially been lost in the Rule-5 Draft. Finally, the Yankees added as much money as possible in international bonus pool money (using separate trades of Chasen Shreve/Giovanny Gallegos and Caleb Frare) allowing them to place a large blanket over the top international players this signing period.
Final grade: A-