By Matthew Bagdat
Sports Business Editor
The MLB Trade deadline is always a time that can make or break a team’s season. This season, the New York Yankees faced a difficult situation, as they had to decide whether to keep or trade some of their most valuable assets.
On July 25th, the Yankees traded their closer, Aroldis Chapman, to the Chicago Cubs for a number of highly touted prospects. The team was playing inconsistent baseball and had a 50-48 record, sitting 4 ½ games out of a wild card spot.
They continued to play more inconsistent baseball, and their chances of making the postseason appeared to be less and less likely.
This prompted General Manager Brian Cashman to make the difficult call of trading his biggest contributors. Outfielder Carlos Beltran had been the most productive player in the lineup, however Cashman felt that acquiring long-term assets would be more beneficial, considering the team’s playoff odds were very slim.
Reliever Andrew Miller and starting pitcher Ivan Nova were also dealt at the deadline. Just when Yankee fans thought the front office was done making roster moves, the organization released 41 year-old designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, despite him having a year remaining on his contract.
All of the transactions made by the Yankees, especially the decision to release A-Rod were a major topic of discussion around the league.
The trades made it clear that the Yankees were changing their direction and wanted to focus on the development of their top young prospects. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Luis Severino were all brought up and have been given opportunities to prove themselves.
They were not promoted with the pressure to lead this team into the postseason, however their emergence has been a major factor behind the Yankees’ improved play.
In particular, Gary Sanchez’s play has amazed fans and players all around the league. The 23 year-old catcher has been nothing short of sensational during the month of August, hitting 11 homeruns and driving in 21 runs while posting a very impressive .348 batting average.
This performance earned him American League Player of the Week honors twice, and Player of the Month. His play alone has made the Yankees more interesting to watch, as he has been a major factor behind their recent success.
While the Red Sox are starting to pull away for the AL East Division crown, the Yankees are getting closer and closer to the wild card spot that seemed extremely unlikely just over a month ago.
The young bats in the lineup have provided a spark, and the starting pitching has become more consistent. In baseball, it all starts with the ace, and Masahiro Tanaka has certainly done his part, setting the tone for the rest of the starters. The rest of the rotation has improved, and the bullpen has remained strong despite losing its three biggest arms.
Currently, the Yankees have a record of 75-65 and have won their last six games. They are sitting just one game back of a wild card spot, and are certainly giving the teams ahead of them a run for their money. The emergence of young players such as Sanchez and the team’s unexpected postseason push has given fans a reason to be optimistic.
The Yankees are hitting their stride at the perfect time, and if they can continue their current success they will be rewarded with a Wild Card spot. And in the MLB postseason, anything can happen.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 13th print edition.
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