With the Pennant Race Heating Up, Who Are the Yankees Trade Targets?

Although Brian Cashman has said he believes the New York Yankees could very well stand pat at the trade deadline and not make any deals, he did make similar remarks last season, before the Yankees ended up acquiring Marin Prado and Chase Headley. In the thick of the AL East race, here are moves the Yankees could make to elevate themselves to championship contenders.

Starting Pitchers:

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Mike Leake

While Mike Leake is not a top of the rotation pitcher, he is a very capable bottom of the rotation guy who can eat innings. With injury prone players such as Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia at the top of the rotation, someone like Leake could very well come in handy, as well as saving the Yankees seemingly overused bullpen healthy. Leake has pitched 121 innings in 19 starts this season, and threw 214 last season. The Yankees bullpen has the seventh most innings thrown, and giving them extra rest with someone such as Leake could help out quite a bit.

The only downside with him is that he could struggle pitching in the American League at the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. He has pitched in Great America Ballpark his entire career which also happens to favor hitters, but with the DH in the AL, he could struggle. He has a 3.95 ERA this season, and a career mark of 3.92.

The biggest draw with Leake is he would not cost a whole lot to acquire, compared to other available starters such as Cole Hamels and Jeff Samardzija. The Cincinnati Reds should begin to enter rebuild mode, and Leake will most likely be traded.

Johnny Cueto

Cueto will almost definitely be on a new roster come August 1st. The Reds ace has just a 6-6 record, but his 2.79 ERA is excellent, and his .95 WHIP is even better. Cueto has had a sub 3 ERA for five consecutive seasons, and his WHIP also has gradually dropped over the last four. He is a certified ace, and would do wonders at the top of the Yankees rotation. He may also come at a reasonable ransom, as he is in the final season of his contract and the Reds are probably entering a fire sale.

The one-year on his contract could also be a deter. If the Yankees fail to re-sign him in the offseason, they could end up losing a group of talented prospects for nothing.

Adding Cueto to the Yankees already talented pitching staff would surely elevate them to potential World Series contenders.

Other options: Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, Clay Buchholz

Relief Pitchers:

Tyler Clippard

The Oakland Athletics have been in a nosedive since the All-Star break a season ago, and could look to unload. Clippard was actually on the Yankees for a season as a starter, before being traded to the Nationals and subsequently converted to a reliever. He has thrived in that role since, with a career 2.84 ERA and 1.07 WHIP out of the bullpen. The Yankees could potentially use one final arm to round out their bullpen, especially a righty such as Clippard.

Clippard is also a strikeout machine, posting a 10.49 K/9 last season, and 3.57 K/BB. If the price is right with Clippard, he could be a sound addition.

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Brad Ziegler

Much like the Reds, the sliding Arizona Diamondbacks could look to trade away guys to contending teams at the deadline. The 35-year-old Brad Ziegler could be one of those players. The righty reliever has been dominant this season, posting a 1.08 ERA and .79 WHIP in 41.2 IP. Batters are hitting just .156 against him .248 slugging percentage.

The eight-year veteran would add yet another formidable arm to the bullpen, possibly making the Yankees have the second best bullpen in the league, behind the unbeatable Kansas City Royals.

Other options: Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Jason Grilli, Rafael Betancourt, Aroldis Chapman

Infielders:

Dustin Ackley

While the former 2009 second overall pick has struggled this season with just a .216 average and 6 home runs, the Yankees have been linked to him and like his potential. He has mostly played in the outfield this season, but has played 250 games at second base since 2011. His ability to also play first base and the outfield gives the Yankees solid flexibility.

The 27-year-old, at one point, was hailed as the next big thing in the big leagues, but hasn’t panned out very well thus far. He is a left handed batter though, so his numbers could rise at Yankee Stadium with the short porch out in right field. If he continues to struggle, he is in the final year of his contract so the Yankees could easily cut ties with Ackley, but if they do decide to keep him he is arbitration eligible and could stay for cheap.

Scott Strazzante

Ben Zobrist

The ultimate utility man, Ben Zobrist can play practically every position on the diamond aside from pitcher and catcher. With bullpens expanding, someone like Zobrist is incredibly valuable. His hitting numbers have tailed off a bit, but he was dealing with injuries for a large part of the season, but appears to be healthy now.

The 34-year-old is hitting .258 with 5 home runs and 32 RBI, with a .346 OBP. While those aren’t great numbers, he is probably a better option than Stephen Drew and the inexperienced Rob Refsnyder, who is better suited to take over next season. He also could platoon at third base with the somewhat regressing Chase Headley. Zobrist also is in the final year of his contract, paving the way for Refsnyder next season. He may be difficult to obtain though, as many teams have shown interest and the Yankees are reluctant to give up top tier prospects.

Other options: Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill, DJ LeMahieu, Chris Owings, Chase Utley

 

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