At 4 p.m. on July 31, the trade deadline came to an end with the Yankees starting play 5.5 games behind the Red Sox. Two weeks later, the Yankees are now 10 games back, and just 3.5 games ahead of Oakland for the top Wild Card position.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman made a couple of trades that have turned out well thus far -- J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn among them. However, did he do everything he could or should have when it came to upgrading the club for a run at first place and a potential World Series title?
Too much faith in Britton turnaround?
Zach Britton was just 14.2 innings into his season when Cashman traded for the former Orioles lefty. The trade was clearly based on Britton's upside potential rather than how he was performing. It is true that he was flashing signs of his former self leading up to the trade. However, he has demonstrated plenty of command issues thus far and it is impeding his ability to shut down opponents.
Britton was not brought over to work the fifth or sixth inning. He was expected to provide late-inning relief (pardon the pun) for Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances (maybe David Robertson to a lesser extent) in an effort to keep them strong as the season winds down. Britton has yet to display that he's all the way back and trustworthy enough with a late-inning role. And if he doesn't get there, it will be a wasted trade for the Yankees.
Was it wrong to trade McKinney?
In a perfect world, Clint Frazier would have walked straight into the starting lineup when Aaron Judge went down with an injury. Frazier, who is still suffering from concussion symptoms, was not available to play at the time of the deadline as a backup plan for any injuries in the New York outfield. But the Yankees went ahead and shipped their next competent (and ready) outfielder to the Blue Jays for Happ.
Happ has been quite good thus far, but it's not difficult to see how much the Yankees could have used McKinney -- especially with Giancarlo Stanton now unable to play right field due to a nagging hamstring issue.
The Yankees were rolling with underwhelming journeyman Shane Robinson for a time, and now have Neil Walker playing some in right field. Walker is at least hitting the ball, but he has not had many chances to show his inexperience in the field, where Robinson is an upgrade simply because he's a true outfielder.
The Yankees might have been wise to insist on another player go in the Happ trade. With that, McKinney might have provided adequate production in the field and at the plate until Judge returns, or Stanton is up to full speed.
International bonus pool money or outfielder? Why not both?
It's completely understandable that the Yankees decided to shed some players from the organization instead of losing them in the Rule 5 Draft in December. But should finding an outfielder once they knew they needed one with McKinney already gone have taken precedence over moves geared toward the future?
All the power to the Yankees for worrying about the long-term success of the organization in maneuvering for money to pay international signing bonuses. However, being within earshot of the Red Sox at the deadline with 10 games left against them at the time, filling the outfielder void was equally, if not more, important than signing teenagers to contracts.
Hindsight might be 20/20 where it concerns McKinney since Judge got hurt the day after the transaction, but the Yankees had chances to swing deals for an outfielder before waiver-wire deals were the only options.
When concentrating on what mattered now in the Yankees' chances to catch Boston, Cashman failed to deliver. At the very least, Cashman could have worked both sides. He chose not to do so.