The New York Yankees currently have a 37-31 record. Thats good. Right? Well, not exactly. They're in 3rd place and sit 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are also just 5 games behind the Red Sox, so that leaves 4 teams competing for first place. However, it's highly unlikely that all 4 of these teams will still be in contention come playoffs, or even the trade deadline for that matter.
The Yankees have lost 5 in a row, so if anyone's going to drop in the standings, it's most likely going to be them. They've unfortunately been plagued by injuries this season (not so unfortunate if you're a Yankee hater), but surprisingly, they've been able to stay competitive. But all good things must come to an end.
As you can see, the average age of players in the Yankees Projected 2013 Lineup is well over 30 years old. Even if you take exclude injured players like 38 year old Derek Jeter and 37 year old Alex Rodriguez, the average age of this Yankees ball club is still 31.4 years old, way higher than it should be. This, as many expected, has been detrimental so far. Roughly half of these players have already had DL stints this year, such as Teixeira, Granderson, and Jeter. Obviously, a change in age range is imminent. One person that stands out as a trade candidate in this Projected Lineup is Robinson Cano. He's in the prime of his career, at 30 years old, and hits free agency this upcoming winter.
Ever since his ML debute with the Yankees in 2005, 2nd base phenom, Robinson Cano has been a consistently great player. He came in second place for AL rookie of the year in 2005, and since then, he's almost won MVP 3 times, and has made 5 All-Star appearances. Along with that, he's received 4 Silver Slugger awards, 2 Gold Gloves, and has managed to maintain an average above .300 for 6 of his 9 seasons with the Yankees. This is extremely impressive, however, if the Yankees plan on being coming into the 2014 season under the Luxury Tax, the price to keep Robinson Cano may be too high. No matter how much he signs for this offseason, expect him to receive over 20 million each season.
So since the Yankees aren't going to be able to sign Cano past the 2013 season, they're best option is to trade him for top prospects or for several proven major leaguers. First things first, they're going to need to fill Cano's spot at second base, so they'll need to receive a second baseman in the trade. Additionally, they're in need of a well established catcher. Also, this is most likely LHP Andy Pettitte's last season, so the Yankees will need another left-handed starter to fill his spot in the rotation in 2014. So to top off the trade, expect the Yankees to receive an above-average starting pitcher. Two teams that have exactly what the Yankees are looking for happen to be the Braves and the Dodgers. While trading with the Braves is more of a short term solution, a trade with the Dodgers would provide the Yankees with more of a long term solution.
At 40 wins and 28 losses, the Braves currently have one of the best records in baseball, so they'll be looking to further upgrade their team at the trade deadline. The Braves are a World Series Caliber team, but if they want to assure themselves this World Series Title, a blockbuster trade will be necessary. With the emergence of 26 years old catcher Evan Gattis, Brian McCann has nowhere to play, so McCann would be the first part of the trade. He's becoming a free agent following this season, but with slim pickings when it comes to catchers, Yankees would probably sign him for 3 or 4 years.
To fill Cano's spot at second, Braves would send the Yankees Dan Uggla, who's signed through 2015 with 39 million dollars left on his contract. Uggla is only hitting .188 this year, but aside from his struggles this season, he has established himself as one of the premium second baseman in baseball since his debute with the Marlins in 2006. Just like every other season, he's still on pace for more than 30 homeruns this year, so by no means will the Yankees batting order have a lack of power.
With Brandon Beachy likely returning from Tommy John surgery within the next week, the braves will have a 6 man starting rotation, whereas every other team has a 5 man rotation. This means that one of the 6 guys is going to be the odd man out, and its definitely not going to be Beachy. Paul Maholm is also going to be a free agent after the 2013 season, but he's still a likely candidate to be sent to the Yankees. With the absence of Cano, Yankees will have some extra money to spend on Maholm, so if he's traded to the Yankees, expect them to sign him to a 2-3 year deal for around 15-20 million.
The Aftermath of the Braves/Yankees Trade
Robinson Cano: If the Braves win the World Series in 2013, there's a big chance they would sign Cano long term. Even if they didn't make it to the World Series though, they would still need a second baseman, so there's a high chance of them signing Cano regardless of the outcome of their 2013 season.
Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, and Paul Maholm: Following the 2013 season, Yankees will have an excess amount of money after shedding Cano from their payroll. They'll use this money to sign both McCann and Maholm for 2-3 years each.
The Dodgers are 7.5 games behind the Diamondbacks and are in last place, but like the Yankees, they've been plagued with injuries. In fact, they've used the disabled list 20 times this year, the most out of any team in the MLB. The Dodgers current second baseman, 36 year old Mark Ellis, is reaching the end of his career, however, he's signed through the 2014 season and still has a lot left in the tank. He'll earn $5.75 million next year, and since the Dodgers have all sorts of flexibility in their major league leading budget, they'll gladly cover Ellis's contract in 2014 if it means they get Robinson Cano.
For a catcher, the Dodgers could trade A.J. Ellis to the Yankees. This would leave backup catcher Tim Federowicz to man the plate for the rest of the Dodgers 2013 season. Assuming the Yankees and Braves trade doesn't happen though, Brian McCann would be an available free agent in the offseason, so the Dodgers would take advantage of this and sign him long term.
In terms of pitching, Dodger's don't have much to offer at the major league level, but they certainly have the prospects. They're top pitching prospect, RHP Zach Lee would definitely be included in the trade, along with LHP Chris Reed, their second best pitching prospect. Both these players are almost major league ready. If that's not enough young talent to ignite a trade with the Yankees, Dodgers could also include speedster Dee Gordon. He currently plays shortstop, but the Dodgers have been talking about moving him to second base for several years now, due to his defensive struggles.
On a side note, with rising star RF Yasiel Puig's call up, it marks an end to RF Andre Ethier in Los Angeles. The best option for the Dodgers would be to trade him to Millwakee for 3B Aramis Ramirez because as of now, the Dodgers still don't have an everyday 3rd baseman. Also, in order for the trade to work, the Dodgers would have to eat about half of Ethier's $85 million salary.
The Aftermath of the Dodgers/Yankees Trade.
Robinson Cano: Expect the Dodgers to sign him through 2019 or 2020 (6-7 years) for roughly 140-160 million.
A.J. and Mark Ellis: Yankees keep both players until their contracts expire. They let Mark Ellis walk after 2014, and if A.J. Ellis can play as well as he has for LA, Yankees sign a 2 year deal for around 10 million following his 2017 season.
Zach Lee and Chris Reed: Zach Lee makes the Yankees opening day roster in 2014 and solidifies their starting rotation. Chris Reed is called up to make a few spot starts to prove himself so the Yankees can use him as trade bate at the 2014 trade deadline
Dee Gordon: Yankees use him as the backup second baseman in 2014. After letting Mark Ellis become a free agent following the 2014 season, the Yankees officially name Dee Gordon as their starting second baseman for the 2015 season.
Projected Post-Trade Batting Orders for 2014
2014 Braves Opening Day Lineup
1. SS Andrelton Simmons
2. RF Jason Heyward
3. LF Justin Upton
4. 2B Robinson Cano
5. 1B Freddie Freeman
6. C Evan Gattis
7. 3B Chris Johnson
8. CF B.J. Upton
9. P Tim Hudson
2014 Dodgers Opening Day Lineup
1. LF Carl Crawford
2. RF Yasiel Puig
3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
4. CF Matt Kemp
5. 2B Robinson Cano
6. 3B Aramis Ramirez
7. C Brian McCann
8. SS Hanley Ramirez
9. P Clayton Kershaw
If the Yankees want to add some youth to their lineup, trading Robinson Cano is their best option. The Braves could take this as an opportunity to win the 2013 World Series, while the Dodgers could take this as an opportunity to solidify their lineup 1 through 9. The Dodgers projected lineup seems absolutely crazy, but if Dodgers management really wants to prove that they can win a World Series, the Dodgers could very well look like this in 2014. Wow.