The Yankees continue to be the biggest of big-game hunters at the trade deadline. The better the name, the harder they seem to be trying.
They landed All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi early, and have continued to check in on superstar outfielder Juan Soto — who is by far the best and most valuable player with a realistic chance to be traded, assuming, like everyone else, that all-time two-way great Shohei Ohtani stays in Anaheim (the Yankees think he will, too).
They lost out on All-Star starter Luis Castillo but have stayed in the middle of talks for talented A’s pitcher Frankie Montas, their clear second choice on a market filled with serviceable rentals and some talented trade maybes such as Pablo Lopez, Martin Perez, Carlos Rodon and Nate Eovaldi.
To their chagrin, to this point there’s no traction on talks regarding Soto — who they’d love. While they checked in as recently as Sunday, it appears the Nats are focused elsewhere. Word going around is the Nats only see Anthony Volpe, the Yankees’ top prospect, as a very good major-leaguer, not the star others do. Anyway, the Cardinals and Padres have been seen as the most logical landing spots, with the Dodgers and Rangers perhaps on the next tier. The Yankees may not even be on any tier.
Their most interesting realistic pursuit then is likely Montas, who’d bolster a rotation that finally looks like it needs a little bolstering. The A’s understandably are looking for high-end prospects, and while the Yankees seem like they want to hold onto Volpe (unless the Nats call them), they are seemingly willing to include Oswald Peraza, yet another shortstop, in the right deal. And considering the other rotation trade options, this may be it.
Castillo’s old Reds teammate Tyler Mahle is a decent option who’s been pitching well the last couple months, and Jose Quintana, a veteran rental, is having a nice year. Those two are on the Yankees’ radar. While Quintana isn’t a hard thrower, he’s a dependable starter, and drawing interest from all over in a steep sellers’ market, as is Mahle.
Montas is clearly the main man, however. There will be huge competition from the Dodgers and others for arguably the best young starter still on the market. The Cardinals are the other prime team known to be in on Montas, but they are also one of the main teams in the middle of the Soto talks. The Cardinals have an outstanding stash of young prospects and major-leaguers, putting them in position to do big things — but to land both Soto and Montas would be quite the trick.
One edge the Yankees might have in the Montas derby is that the other two teams known to be in hot pursuit of the hard-throwing right-hander are at least somewhat seriously in on Soto — though both the Cardinals (starting pitching) and Dodgers (pen) have bigger needs than Soto. The Dodgers, who like the Cardinals have a superb stockpile of young pieces, are at least on the periphery of the Soto talks. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has a long-standing rapport with A’s honcho Billy Beane, though that hasn’t resulted in a ton of trades between the teams to this point, perhaps because they think too much alike.
Latecomers Pablo Lopez, Martin Perez, Tarik Skubal, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Plesac add interest to the rotation market. However, the only one of that group heard prominently to this point is old friend Syndergaard, and that was to mention how his stuff is down from when they really liked him as a Met. So consider him a fallback to the fallbacks.
The Yankees also want to beef up a pen that’s been excellent but is in transition with Michael King out for the year and All-Star closer Clay Holmes suddenly struggling. Aroldis Chapman is showing signs of regaining form, and there’s hope for former All-Star Zack Britton to provide a late spark. But just in case, the Yankees are looking.
Old friend David Robertson, who’s having a superb season with the Cubs, is a target of both the Mets and Yankees, where he first made his bones as the setup man for Mariano Rivera on the 2009 World Series-winning team. Michael Fulmer, Matt Moore and many others also are on the Yankees’ relief wish list, and they will get someone.
Their other piece of business is unloading Joey Gallo, preferably to a place where he can regain his form. The Brewers emerged as one possibility, but the Padres and Rangers, two places where his old bosses run things, may remain the most likely landing spots.
If they can find a spot for Gallo — and they surely will — they’d be undoing the one move that didn’t work over the last calendar year. Their recent history says they know what they are doing. They seem to be focused on all the key areas, and the great likelihood is they find a way — probably two or three ways — to improve the best team in baseball.