The Yankees pushed ahead of the American League East with a strong first two months of the season and a fine start to June. However, since June 12, the Yankees are 3-10, which begs the question of whether they should be full-out buyers at the trade deadline.
The contention is not that the Yankees were flukes early on, but they had an awful lot of things fall perfectly into place for them. Of late, the Yankees have not been getting all the bounces, they've played a good deal of sloppy baseball and the injury bug seems to have infiltrated the roster. The truth is, the Yankees are far from one player away from pulling away from the pack and those are the types of teams that flat out buy at the deadline.
The Yankees have several areas which need refinement. The most glaring has to do with middle relief, which continues to be a plague to the Yankees. Yankees relievers have been an atrocity this month and for much of the season the bridge to the closer has been shaky at best.
In my opinion, the Yankees would have to find two reliable relievers and to be honest, Aroldis Chapman doesn't seem as dominant to me. He's not dialing up the fastball as he did last season and he is not getting as many swings and misses since he returned from a lengthy stay on the disabled list. I wonder if Chapman is fully healthy and if he goes down with an injury again, the Yankees will be in further need of outside help.
Next, the Yankees do not have true ace. They have pitchers who could be that player, but we cannot assume one of them will step up to carry the club that a playoff team needs. The club might not even have a proven No. 2 starter to match with the other playoff contenders in the American League.
No doubt the lineup has been potent, but the fact is, it is built around streaky players. Beyond Aaron Judge, the lineup regulars generate production in a yo-yo fashion. Brett Gardner is back in a decline, Chase Headley is climbing out of one. Aaron Hicks was slumping before he went on the disabled list as has Starlin Castro, who also just got hurt. Didi Gregorius and Matt Holliday have also hit the skids over the last several days. When the offense slides, there is little in the way of balance from the pitching staff to overcome it.
The mounting injuries might be the other reason the Yankees should be cautious when it comes to becoming heavy buyers at the trade deadline. Hicks, Greg Bird, CC Sabathia and Adam Warren are all on the disabled list, with Castro potentially joining them. Getting them back could be as beneficial to the club as any outside help. The Yankees have missed Bird's left-handed bat in the lineup and Warren's steadiness in the middle innings. Despite Sabathia's age, he was doing his part for the club before his injury. Hicks and Castro have been revelations this year.
I would also argue that some of the answers for the Yankees could be in their system already. The Yankees might get rotation support from Chance Adams or Bryan Mitchell. Lefty reliever Tyler Webb looked quite good in his quick time with the Yankees. The club should use the rest of this month and the first half of July to see what is right in front of them and get back some of the injured players before making their final decisions.
While I can see the Yankees making some moves this summer, I believe they'll be with the future in mind. The Yankees simply cannot go after high-priced rentals. If the Yankees move any top prospects, they won't be for rental type players. They would do so with an eye toward remaining competitive this season and anticipating the player(s) would be a part of the Yankees' newly forming core.
The Yankees also have a multitude of decisions to make in reference to players eligible for the winter's Rule 5 draft. The Yankees might trade some of the fringier players in deals to fill spots in the system with players who are not Rule 5 eligible. They don't have to rush on these types of moves, but if they are presented and make sense, they could handle some now.
The Yankees are 26-25 since April; hardly a team that looks like one that can deep in the playoffs. They put together a great early run which surprised everyone in the game, likely including themselves. However, that should not change the course of action that they have been so deliberate in building the last couple of seasons.