Let me state off the top this piece is not advocating the trading of any Yankees prospect, but the time may come when one is used in a trade.
For instance, few fans, at this point, would complain about the swap that sent slugging Peter O’Brien to Arizona last year for Martin Prado, who is signed through 2016 and has become quite valuable to the club. Such a trade may happen this year f0r a needed piece.
The Yankees, even after sending catcher Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, still have a surplus at that position. This corner would no be surprised if either Austin Romine or Gary Sanchez is moved within a year.
With John Ryan Murphy establishing himself as the a solid backup to Brian McCann – and with highly thought-of Luis Torrens beginning to make his mark on the Yankees system, both Romine and Sanchez could be expendable in the right deal. Romine has had injury problems, but a lot of teams think highly of his abilities, while Sanchez has certainly been asked for in talks.
Both just might benefit from a change in scenery. Romine could find himself in a better situation with more playing time, while Sanchez, whose attitude and dedication could use a boost, might prosper better elsewhere.
The only four prospects seemingly untouchable are first baseman Greg Bird, right-handed pitcher Luis Severino, right-fielder Aaron Judge and left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, who could only be swapped as a Player to be Named Later as he was just drafted last June.
Certain other pitchers, such as relievers Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb and James Pazos could be used in the right trade. Among starters, right-hander Jaron Long, who was 12-5, 2.18 in a combination of Charleston, Tampa and Trenton. He is a sinker-slider control guy who has attracted some looks off his effort last season. He is the son of former Yankees and now Mets hitting coach Kevin Long. On the likely n0-trade list are starters Ian Clarkin and Ty Hensley.
The Yankees also re-signed right-hander Jose Campos to a minor-league contract after removing him from the 40-man roster. Injuries have stopped him from really advancing , as they have outfielder Slade Heathcott, whom the Yankees would also like to sign to a minor-league contract.
There are a lot of decent outfielders in the system. Starting with the rebounding Tyler Austin and adding guys like Ben Gamel, Jake Cave, Ramon Flores and Taylor Dugas. All have talent and all could certainly eventually play in the majors. But will it be for the Yankees?
Among the infielders, the one who won’t be traded is second baseman-in-training Rob Refsnyder, who is general manager Brian Cashman’s project to make into an adequate player at that position. Refsnyder has the best plate approach of anyone in the Yankees system, but defense and fundamentals have been a challenge. He likely will work on those areas at Triple-A Scranton in 2015. Jose Pirela, his rival to seize a Yankees utility spot in 2015, has some things a team might look for, also beginning with the bat.
This is the first time in several years the Yankees have such depth in theft system to make a legitimate deal using prospects if needed. You never know, but O’Brien’s return certainly has helped the big-league club.