We are living at the dawn of a new era in New York sports - Ben McAdoo has the reigns in the Meadowlands, the Knicks are (well, might be) making smart basketball decisions, and the Yankees are actually debating being sellers at the trade deadline. And actually, when we say debate, we mean that two factions in the front office, which we will call #TeamBuy (led by Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine) and #TeamSell (led by Brian Cashman), are fighting to control the destiny of the New York Yankees' 2016 season...a fight that has left the Yankees fanbase divided. As the deadline approaches in just under 48 hours, let's take a look at the pros and cons of each side in this civil war.
Pros of #TeamSell
1. There are 6 teams within 5.5 GBs of each other in the Wild Card standings. The Yankees are fifth of those six teams, which include the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, two teams that have been in first place of the AL East for significant stretches of time. While all the teams involved have their flaws, the Yankees have not had a dominant stretch like these other teams...after all, the Yankees were three games over .500 for just the first time this week!
2. The Yankees' run differential is a paltry -28, which gives them a Pythagorean record of 48-54. Once again, Girardi has this team overachieving at 52-50. Overachieving the run differential is a nice but meaningless accomplishment, and while Girardi's Yankees have made a habit of it, it guarantees nothing; in fact, last season's wild card team underachieved by one game. They may be overachieving, but that overachieving still puts them at barely a .500 team.
3. Selling now does not mean the team is surrendering 2017. Greg Bird should return from injury and provide an immediate upgrade over the aging Mark Teixeira. Gary Sanchez is MLB-ready, and should easily slde into the lineup either at catcher or as the DH. Aaron Judge could make his MLB debut as early as later this season and should provide a jolt for the lineup. Additionally, the acquisition of Gleyber Torres and other prospects from the Cubs provides the Yankees additional assets to trade in the winter in the event they wanted to acquire a starting pitcher (as the free agent market this winter is notoriously weak). Numerous elite relievers (including our old friend Aroldis Chapman) are the premier names in this year's market, which would ease the parting blow if the Yankees do in fact trade Andrew Miller and would allow Chad Green and Luis Severino to compete for a spot in the starting rotation next spring. There are plenty of avenues for this team to contend in 2017.
Cons of #TeamSell
1. The Yankees don't have the assets to do a full-blown firesale. Only teams in need of a DH want Carlos Beltran. CC Sabathia and Brian McCann have no-trade clauses. Brett Gardner has been struggling. Beyond Andrew Miller, the Yankees don't exactly have the assets to make a major deal. Anything the team will likely be able to do would not impact the team much in either the short- or long-term, such as trading Refsnyder or Hicks. Barring something unforeseen, such as a first-place team's 3B getting injured and suddenly start champing on the bit for Chase Headley, the guys on the roster now will probably stick around for the remainder of the season.
2. Despite its flaws, the team is only 4.5 games out of the second wild card; even if you don't want to sell the farm for this team, you can make the case that the team should respect the standings and at least let it play out, because crazier things have happened in the world of baseball.
Pros of #TeamBuy
1. Although the concept of buying usually is thought of as the acquisition of an older, overpaid vet or a guy about to go to free agency, there is no rule that says you cannot get a player under team control for multiple years. Technically, the acquisition of Chris Sale would be considered the team "buying," but the Yankees would actually be gaining one of the league's best pitchers on a very cost-friendly deal through 2019. Not a bad pitcher to build a rotation around.
2. The team is only 4.5 games out of the wild card at 52-50, but have been 44-33 since starting off 8-17 in April. That is a .571 clip; for comparison, the division-leading Blue Jays have a .567 win percentage. Since Beltran and Headley overcame slow starts, this team has not been all that bad; a decent winning streak would put them in a strong position come September.
3. The Yankees play the overwhelming majority of the rest of their games against the Orioles, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, giving them a great opportunity to make up a lot of ground.
Cons of #TeamBuy
1. The Yankees play most of the rest of the season against the AL East....and they're 14-21 against the AL East.
2. In order to acquire anybody under team control for multiple years (since Cashman is unlikely to go after a rental), the Yankees would need to trade a lot of prospects, which would gut their farm system. Chances are, any major acquisition, such as the acquisition of Chris Sale, would likely also happen in tandem with the sale of Andrew Miller for prospects, possibly even in a three-way deal. So in a way, the team might not even truly be buyers, but both buyers and sellers.
And there you have it. Whose side are you on?