“Well I guess the rebuilding is over,” was the sentiments over this past week and the day of the MLB trading deadline.
When it was all said and done in the month of July, the Yankees traded away Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian, Zack Littell, Dietrich Enns, Tyler Webb, Matt Wotherspoon, Rob Refsnyder, Ian Clarkin, Blake Rutherford, Tito Polo, and Dillon McNamara.
That list means the Yankees traded away their #2, #5, #12, #14, #32, #40, #44, and #48 according to our updated pre-season rankings.
Wow, you would think the Yankees would be taking a big hit and move out of the top five farm systems in the sport. But due to the incredible depth they have, they are still considered one of the best systems in all of baseball.
The fact that we were able to acquire right-hander Sonny Gray without a package that included both Mateo and outfielder Estevan Florial is a testament to how good a General Manager Brian Cashman really is when left to his own devices.
Had this been the George Steinbrenner days there would have been no waiting or shrewd negotiating. He would have demanded we give up whatever the A’s wanted for Gray if it meant the team was making the post season.
But instead, Cashman put his cards on the tablet and gave the A’s a choice. Either take the offer or walk away. Let’s face it as good as Gray is he was not good enough for the A’s to get both Mateo and Florial. Florial is very highly regarded in the Yankees organization. Both Kapreilian and Fowler’s stock took a hit due to the injuries they sustained.
Is there a chance that Kaprelian comes back from Tommy John surgery and is every bit of the future ace the Yankees hoped he would be? Yes, of course. But only time will tell, and he is not expected to take a mound in game action for another year. There is also no guarantee that Fowler comes back as the player he was before injury.
I would argue losing Fowler stings a lot more than losing Kaprielian but like I have said before, to get something good you have to give up something good.
Now on to Jorge Mateo, who is clearly the centerpiece of this trade. With the Yankees, Mateo was blocked every which way. He is a natural shortstop, but the Yankee have Didi there, and he is playing like no one expected. At second base, the Yankees have Starlin Castro, no guarantee that Castro stays but if he continues to hit as he did before the injury, there is a good chance he sticks. At third, the Yankees have Todd Frazier who is finishing a one-year deal, but Miguel Andujar is right there waiting to take that spot.
Now you say, well that is why the Yankees had him working in centerfield. He is blocked there as well. Judge is firmly planted in right; Clint Frazier is in left, and Brett Gardner is the Yankees clubhouse leader in center. While he might not have the title of Captain, he is for all intents and purposes the Captain of this Yankees squad.
Mateo is a great prospect. He has probably the best speed in all of minor league baseball. He is a talented shortstop, but after the trade for Torres last year he fell out of favor with some fans. Even the most up to date rankings from MLB and Baseball America had Mateo out of the Top 10 in the system.
As much talent as Mateo has, he was not going to get the chance he should. But with the Athletics, he should. Not only will he have a better shot at making the show he has a much better chance of playing his best position.
In all honesty, this is probably the best situation for Mateo. I have advocated for him to be traded for a while now, and it wasn’t because I don’t like him as a prospect or as a person. I saw a need for a fresh start. He is getting that fresh start in a new organization, away from the media spotlight that shines on the Yankees minors and away from any lingering past issues.
I for one will be excited to watch him develop with the A’s, and I hope next year we see him in the big leagues.
When it is all said and done the Yankees pulled off one of the best trade deadline deals you could have hoped for. They held on to the elite talent in Frazier, Torres, and Florial and the dealt from their depth in the middle infield, outfield, and minor league rotation.
The rebuild is not over; it is really just begun. To rebuild does not mean the Yankees must be prospect hoarders, but it means they must be smart with them. You keep some; you trade some. But no matter what you get better and that is what the Yankees did. They got better.