No, you don’t fix the Yankees by trading Aaron Judge

No, you don’t fix the Yankees by trading Aaron Judge

But Deadspin has other moves Bombers can do to do that

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge
Image: Getty Images

Trade season is underway in baseball, with the Blue Jays acquiring Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson from the Marlins, while the White Sox pursue Diamondbacks infielder Eduardo Escobar. The deadline is back to its usual date of July 31 this year, and over the next month, plenty of teams will try to patch holes on their roster in the chase for a championship.

If there’s a “contender” with bigger problems to fix than the Yankees, who sit fourth in the American League East, just two games over .500 (a worse record than the Seattle Freakin’ Mariners), there isn’t one with a brighter spotlight. New York, though, is in a weird spot approaching the trade deadline.

The Bronx Bombers are 14th in the American League in runs scored, even though they rank fifth in the Junior Circuit with a .319 team on-base percentage. Trading Aaron Judge, and somehow justifying it that it could rejuvenate the Yankees as the Mookie Betts trade did for the Red Sox — one hell of a retcon job — ain’t it.

Judge is the Yankees’ best player, will hit free agency after next season, his age-30 campaign, and the idea that they can’t re-sign him to play right field because of the presence of Giancarlo Stanton, their DH and next-best hitter, is wildly off the mark. Especially if the justification is that Judge is injury-prone, well, what is Stanton? The best Yankees team going forward has both of those guys in the lineup, with the hope that Gary Sanchez’s rejuvenation over the last six weeks is more than a mirage.

If you’re the New York Yankees, and you don’t re-sign Judge long term because of made-up reasons that really come down to “we don’t want to pay the luxury tax,” you might as well just pack it in and move the team to Boise. The Yankees absolutely should be prepared to blow through the luxury tax and deal with the implications of losing draft and international signing pool position. Who do the Yankees ever draft anyway? For the last quarter century, Judge is the only impact player they’ve added in the first round, with the list of busts populated by memorable names such as Eric Duncan, C.J. Henry, Cito Culver, Andrew Brackman, and Eric Jagielo.

To be fair, the Yankees do have a good prospect from a recent first round in pitcher Clarke Schmidt, and their top prospect, Jasson Dominguez, got a $5.1 million signing bonus. But Dominguez had been touted even at 16 as a generational prospect, and New York’s three next-best prospects, pitcher Deivi Garcia and shortstop Oswald Peraza, signed for a combined $375,000. Luis Gil, ranked fifth by MLB Pipeline for the Yankees’ organization, signed with the Twins for $90,000 and came to New York in a 2018 spring training trade for Jake Cave. And with the shortening of the draft to five rounds, it should be easier than it has been in decades for a team like the Yankees to find and acquire undrafted free agents to develop on the farm.

But what should the Yankees do to help their chances now, finding themselves in the odd position where the issue isn’t a lack of talent, but a lineup packed with too-similar all-or-nothing righty power bats? It’s not as simple as the typical trade strategy of we’re buyers, you’re sellers, and we’ll give you some prospects for your top players.

Like, sure, absolutely go get Ketel Marte from the Diamondbacks (once he’s back from a hamstring strain) or Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates to take over center field and add the switch-hitting bat that’s been missing since Aaron Hicks got hurt. The Yankees’ rather full roster, though, means that reshaping this lineup will require some subtraction as well as addition. Here are a few ideas on how to get there.

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Option 1

Option 1

Luke Voit
Luke Voit
Image: Getty Images

From A’s: Matt Olson, Frankie Montas, and Elvis Andrus

From Yankees: Luke Voit, Domingo Germán, and Clint Frazier

If you call the A’s and inquire about Olson, the first reaction is probably going to be getting hung up on, but Oakland does make big trades even when in contention, and this is a spot where the Yankees can use their financial muscle to their advantage. For agreeing to downgrade a notch at first base from Olson to Voit (who has an additional year of team control), the A’s would get a slight rotation boost by swapping Montas for Germán, and get out from under Andrus’ contract while adding Frazier, a clearly talented player who has needed a change of scenery for a while.

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Option 2

Option 2

Didi Gregorius
Didi Gregorius
Image: Getty Images

From Phillies: Didi Gregorius

From Yankees: Albert Abreu and Luis Cessa

The Yankees made a huge mistake when they let Gregorius walk in free agency, not grasping what he’d meant to their team not only as a lefty bat, but for all that his character meant in the clubhouse. One of the biggest problems for the Bombers this year is how dull they’ve been, and that was never the case when Gregorius was around, spreading joy wherever he went. Philadelphia’s bullpen is a mess, and two little-used Yankees arms would instantly become among the Phillies’ best relievers, while Gregorius’ production hasn’t been missed too much while he’s been on the Phils’ injured list.

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Option 3

Option 3

Gleyber Torres
Gleyber Torres
Image: Getty Images

From Cubs: Ian Happ, Jake Arrieta, and either Cristian Hernandez or Ed Howard

From Yankees: Gleyber Torres, Jameson Taillon, and Estevan Florial

At the major league level, this is a swap of four players having disappointing seasons, which is putting it as gently as possible. In that way, it’s something of an old-school challenge trade, but given that Torres is just two years removed from a 38-homer season and still is only 24 years old, it makes sense for the Yankees to do a bit better on the minor league side, at least theoretically. Hernandez and Howard are both teenage shortstop prospects, a long way from the major leagues but with big-time upside. Florial’s prospect status has slipped, but the tools are all still there, and he might even be able to help on the North Side immediately. It doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to get that chance in the Bronx.

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Option 4

Option 4

Aaron Boone
Aaron Boone
Image: Getty Images

The hell with it, just fire Aaron Boone

The Yankees haven’t made an in-season managerial change since 1990, when Stump Merrill took over for Bucky Dent and Brian Cashman was a year out of college, starting his rise up the organizational ladder. The question that always needs to be asked is whether you can see a team winning a championship with its current leader, and in Boone’s case, it’s not so much about him as it is about the fact that the Yankees will have enough talent to do it. There are some sexy, Steinbrennerian options out there who you could just as easily see winning a Fall Classic with this team: David Cone, going down a few flights of stairs from the broadcast booth; Carlos Beltran, the erstwhile Mets skipper who was never suspended for the Astros scandal; Billy Martin, dead for the last 31 years but always available to manage the Yankees; or maybe Willie Randolph, another former Mets skipper and erstwhile Yankee bench coach who has long deserved a chance to pilot the team he played most of his career for… or any other job, for that matter. There also are less famous names available, but the point is that the Yankees’ problems under Boone have been the same for much of the past three years, without any sense of how he can fix them. When that happens, it’s time for a new voice in leadership.

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