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Luis Severino threw seven scoreless innings for the RailRiders Friday night.

Columns

Beware of Trading Away the Farm

There has been a lot of talk over the last few days of the Yankees perhaps trading some top prospects for a certain team’s top starter. This was sparked by report the Yankees made “the best offer” for Phillies ace Cole Hamels written by Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe.

Hamels, a 31-year-old lefty who is owed just a bit over $90 million through 2018, would be a prize catch for the Yankees or another team looking to reach postseason play. He is top-notch on the mound and, with wife, Heidi, top-notch in the community as well through The Hamels Foundation.

Yet, there is no reason for the Yankees, who finally have a farm system on the verge of producing future key components, to trade a bunch of them for a pitcher of even Hamels’ ability. Perhaps, by the time his contract expires after the 2018 season, Luis Severino will be one of the American League’s top hurlers and anchoring the Yankees’ staff.

The right-hander Severino, the Yankees’ top prospect according to Baseball America, and outfielder Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ No. 2 and one of several position prospects who have sparkled in Spring Training, are the first two players the Phillies or any other team would ask for.

Those two, along with first baseman Greg Bird, another prospect hitting well in Grapefruit League games, would not be surrendered by the Yankees. The same can be said of lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren, who could very well appear in The Bronx in mid- to late-2015. As a draft pick from 2014, Lindgren couldn’t be included in a deal until this June, and he won’t.

Teams in rebuilding mode don’t often ask for a trade partner’s top prospects because the keys to a new foundation for them are players who are close to big-league ready. Of Severino, Judge, Bird and Lindgren, only the latter is close and will likely be one of the first players from the 2014 draft to reach the majors.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did use the farm system the last few years, trading homegrown starting pitcher Shane Greene to acquire shortstop Didi Gregorious,  power-hitting catcher Pete O’Brien at the trade deadline last year to acquire infielder Martin Prado and relief prospect Corey Black to bring in Alfonso Soriano in 2013.

We agree with using the farm that way. Trade from positions in which there is depth, like sending pitcher Manny Banuelos to Atlanta for relievers David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve this past winter. O’Brien and Black were traded from areas of strength in the system.

So which prospects might be tradable in a deal that would make sense, but not mortgage the future? The Yankees, even with Luis Torrens missing 2015 due to a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, are well-stocked at catcher. Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine could bring back a needed piece.

Other particularly deep areas in the system are shortstop, third base, the outfield and relief pitching. There are a number of prospects who might interest other teams. These are areas in which there are potential solid big-leaguers, perhaps not stars. All will not play for the Yankees.

The trades mentioned above helped the Yankees fill needs. Prado, who cost only O’Brien, was dealt to Miami with pitcher David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi, who will be in the 2015 Yankees rotation, valuable reserve Garrett Jones and right-handed pitcher Domingo German, who was Miami’s No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America.

Deals bringing back prospects – those acquiring Shreve and German are perfect examples – are favored by this corner.

Trading away three or four jewels of an improving system for one star big-leaguer, especially one over 30, is not.

Written By

Have covered the Yankees and their system for over 20 years. I enjoy writing about future Yankees and where a prospect stands in the system. One rule: I only analyze and comment on prospects I have seen play and have talked to.

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