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  • Cory Claus

Yankees Players and Prospects About to Be Traded

The Yankees need to upgrade their offense to have any chance to make the playoffs. To do that, they'll have to part with some of their high-end talent, but who? Here now is a look at the players most likely to bring back some big-league bats.

The Yankees (49-42) currently sit in fourth place in the AL East, one game out of the Wild Card.

As they're saying in St. Louis right now, that dog won't hunt.

And for once, pitching is not the problem. This staff has the fifth-lowest ERA in the American League (3.80) and just added Carlos Rodon, one of the premier pitchers in the game.

No, the problem is squarely with the offense.

The Yankees team batting average is a paltry .231. That's only good for 13th in the AL, sandwiched between the Tigers and the Royals. That's not easy to swallow. This is clearly not a team whose problems will all magically be solved if and when Aaron Judge returns.

The team needs to add two quality bats to have any chance of beating the Rays, Orioles, Rangers and Braves. And the biggest areas of need are at third base and left field.

Fortunately, there are players available. Guys like OF Cody Bellinger (.298/.355/.491 with an OPS of .846 and 9 home runs), OF Randall Grichuk (.294/.359/.453-OPS .811 and nine HRs) and 3B Jeimer Candelerio (.261/.337/.478-OPS .815 with 13 home runs).

But to get, you gotta give. And therein lies the rub.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman traded away a lot of young talent last year in a vain effort to win it all. Still, there are several valuable players in the system, and some of them will have to go.

Before we begin, a quick note on some of the players not on this list. OF Jasson Dominguez, for instance, could be traded. But his numbers at Double-A (.204/.345/.346) mean he's not much of a difference-maker in any potential trade.

OF Spencer Jones is a name to know, especially since he's the Yankees' number three prospect. But he's only in his second year, albeit with solid power numbers (10 home runs in 281 ABs). He has been otherwise unspectacular so far, though, making it hard to know how valuable he is on the market right now.

SP Luis Gil would be on this list, except that he's currently on another one: the Injured Reserve List.

Gleyber Torres might have made this list if I wrote it back in February. I know many Yankees fans wanted him gone before the season started. But he's been one of the team's best contributors, batting .251/.325/.413 with 13 home runs.

That's good enough for the second-most HRs on the team.

So it would make little sense to trade him now if the Yanks want to win the World Series this year. But I doubt the arbitration-eligible player is still in pinstripes in 2024. That, however, is a trade for another day when the leaves have all left their trees.

And I wouldn't be surprised if 3B Josh Donaldson was included in a trade. But that would be more of a roster dump with the Yanks eating his salary, which isn't really what we're talking about.

With that in mind, here's a look at the Yankees most likely to help bring back some power bats for this year and beyond.

C Ben Rortvedt; Railriders

The Yankees have three big-league catchers on the roster. One of them, however, plays at Triple-A Scranton: Big Ben.

Rortvedt was brought over from the Twins last year in the deal that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshella to Minnesota for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Bryan Hoch described him this way:

Originally drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Rortvedt is a square-jawed, muscular backstop whose defense-first mindset and no-nonsense demeanor have prompted comparisons to a young Joe Girardi.

Now it seems his offense is catching up to his defense.

In a small sample size of just 30 games, mostly at Scranton, he's hitting .302/.422/.547 with an OPS of .959 and 6 HRs. He's had his share of injuries, but almost every team out there would welcome an excellent defensive catcher who might be about to break out offensively.

And he's under team control through 2028. That, along with a low-level pitcher such as Manny Ramirez or Matt Keating might be enough to bring back a player with an expiring contract. Both Candelerio and Grichuk fit that bill.

But the Yankees might want to keep him for themselves. In that case, there's another catcher they might trade.

C Kyle Higashioka; Yankees

Higgy is an excellent defensive catcher and a gamer, too. He's proven he can play and play well, including catching Domingo German's perfect game.

But both he and fellow catcher Jose Trevino have struggled with the bat: Higgy's at .239/.279/.406, while Trevino stands at .211/.255/.316. Trevino, however, is the single best defensive catcher in the game, while Higgy has committed an uncharacteristic eight errors.

For a Yankees squad looking to add offense, this is a spot they might look to upgrade.

That could mean trading Higgy and promoting Rortvedt. That's especially true since Higgy becomes a free agent three years before Big Ben, after next season. That would still leave the team that trades for him a year and a half of control for a proven big-league player.

Trevino, on the other hand, won't become a free agent until 2026.

Another reason this might make sense is that the Yankees have C Austin Wells waiting in the wings. Their number-two prospect has a big-league bat but is stuck at Double-A until Rortverdt is moved or promoted. But he provides enough depth for the rest of the year that the Yankees could feel safe in trading Higgy.

The move would leave the Yankees where they want to be. They'd have a great yet inexpensive defensive catcher under team control through 2025 who could mentor one or both of the team's rising catching prospects.

Whatever the Yanks decide, either Rortvedt or Higgy is almost certainly on his way out the door.

Catcher is not the only position that the Yankees have a surfeit of players, though. Which brings us to...

SS Oswald Peraza; Railriders

Peraza is a prized prospect. He was briefly ranked the top prospect in the Yankees organization and number 57 overall before he got enough at-bats to be removed from prospect status.

Much of that is because he is a premier defensive shortstop. But he also has a high offensive upside, as well. Marcus Zapia writing for Pinstripe Alley earlier this year, described him thusly:

MLB Pipeline mentions that, “pound for pound, Peraza hits the ball as hard as anyone in the Yankees system.” A superior athlete, he brings strength and body control to the batter’s box, along with an ability to make adjustments and close up holes in his swing and approach.
After noting that Triple-A pitchers were attacking him with sliders breaking down and away, Josh Norris of Baseball America wrote that Peraza worked hard behind the scenes to improve against them.

And improve he did. Last year at Scranton in 386 ABs, Peraza hit .259/.329/.448 with 19 home runs and 33 stolen bases. He's followed that up in 2023 by hitting .267/.354/.506 with a dozen home runs.

Those HRs, however, have come in only 180 ABs.

Clearly, Peraza is a big-time prospect. That means there are only two reasons the Yankees would trade him.

One, they don't think he can help them win this year. That's probably true, as they have several infielders already playing in the Bronx. Even if the Yankees rid themselves of Josh Donaldson, they would probably prefer to put DJ Lemaheiu at the hot corner instead of Peraza.

Two, and far more important, is if they have a chance to bring someone like Juan Soto back. You don't give up on a player like Peraza and the promise of his future unless you can get back someone who can put the team over the top right now.

Soto is the type of player who can do that.

If you don't believe me, believe his line for this season: .265/.419/.479 with 15 HRs and an OPS of .879. The only player on the Yankees with a higher OPS is Aaron Judge, and he's not playing right now. Nobody else on the Yankees is above the .700s.

But as stated above, the Yankees have another talented shortstop who might be even more in demand.

SS/3B Trey Sweeney; Patriots

Sweeney isn't as good of a prospect as Peraza, but he has three things going for him that make him perhaps more interesting to other teams.

First, he can play third base, a position it has long been speculated that the 6'4" Sweeney will move to permanently. If there is one important position in high demand across Major League Baseball, it's third base.

Second, he's still only at Double-A. That means he has more of that magical word that GMs can't seem to stop salivating over: Potential.

And Sweeney has been showing that by improving his numbers as he's risen through the ranks. Last year, playing for High-A Hudson Valley, Trey hit .241/.350/.415 with 14 home runs in 390 ABs. This year at Double-A Somerset, he's posted a similar line--.239/.362/.422--but with 12 home runs in 289 ABs.

That's why he's the Yankees' fifth-best prospect.

The last major difference between the two is that Peraza will be arbitration eligible in 2026, while Sweeney's clock hasn't started yet. Then why would the team part with someone so valuable, Yankees fans might be asking.

Or shouting.

Because they have two backup plans. One is that DJ Lemahieu is signed through 2026 and is a whiz at the hot corner. And two is that they have 3B Andres Chaparro at Triple-A, with his .798 OPS and 16 home runs in 302 ABs. The team might be better off trading the highly thought-of Sweeney for a prime MLB player and promoting the unranked Chaparro.

Both Sweeney and Peraza might figure too prominently in the Yankees' plans to move. That's okay, though, because the Yanks have yet another shortstop who's a long way off but is already drawing trade-talk attention.

SS Roderick Arias; Florida Complex League

Arias arrived at the Yankees as the number one prospect in the 2022 international class. And though he started slowly last year, the switch-hitter is already showing his promise by slashing .277/.414/.542.

The eighteen-year-old has also already hit 6 home runs in just 108 at-bats, helping him earn a .956 OPS.

Beyond his offensive upside, Arias has exciting all-around ability. He has run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, should be at least a plus runner even after he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame and is aggressive on the bases. With his quickness, instincts, smooth actions and a plus-plus arm, he's a no-doubt shortstop.

That all adds up to a pretty exciting profile. It's no wonder his name is already being mentioned in trade talks. Cashman might be open to trading him because he's so far away unless Cash already has visions of this kid's future in pinstripes.

There is one player who is, however, who is definitely not in those future plans.

OF Estevan Florial; Railriders and Yankees

Florial has seen it all in the Yankees system. He went from being a promising player to their top prospect by 2019, to being unclaimed earlier this year when the Yankees released him.

His play this year (.294/.389/.596 with a league-leading 21 HRs), however, might be enough to revitalize him as a legitimate trade piece. But since I did a deep dive on him in another article, I won't repeat myself here.

Instead, let's look at another, more promising outfielder.

OF Everson Pereira; Railriders

Periera is easily one of the most talented players in the Yankees system, possessing both power and speed. That's how you get to be their fourth-highest-ranked prospect. But don't take my word for it. Instead, let's go back to

Pereira signed for $1.5 million out of Venezuela as one of the best all-around talents in the 2017 international class, but it took him a while to take off in pro ball because of a combination of aggressive assignments, injuries and the pandemic shutdown. He broke out by slamming 20 homers in just 49 games in 2021 and more than doubled his previous career high by playing in 102 contests last year, when he reached Double-A at age 21.
When he turned pro, Pereira projected as a potential plus hitter with average power, but that profile has reversed as he has gained significant muscle and begun hunting home runs. He has added loft to a quick right-handed swing and hits the ball harder than most Yankees farmhands...

He used that considerable skillset last year to hit .277/.350/.469 with an OPS of .819 and 14 home runs in 408 ABs. This while he split his time between High-A and Double-A at the age of 21.

This year he's even better.

He started back at Somerset where he hit .291/.363/.546 with an OPS of .918. He also hit 10 home runs in 165 at-bats. As you might guess, he's been promoted. And while it's only been four games, Pereira has proven he's not overwhelmed by the competition at Triple-A Scranton, hitting .529/.579/.765 with a gobsmacking 1.344 OPS.

He's also already managed to hit his first home run at Triple-A. Not to mention he's a great fielder. He's probably not a centerfielder anymore, but he's still a smooth criminal in the outfield, stealing base hits and robbing home runs.

Everson Pereira could bring back a significant hitter.

I doubt the Yankees would trade him, though. His promotion would solve the salary cap and left-field issues for the next few years. Not to mention that GM Brian Cashman usually reserves the best players for himself.

That could all change, of course, if the Yankees have a chance to trade for a top-tier talent.

But Cashman would likely need to include a promising young pitcher in any such deal, and it's there we go next.

SP Will Warren; Railriders

Warren started strong at Double-A this year in only his second season of professional ball. In six games, he carved out a 2.45 ERA while striking out 39 batters in 29 innings of work. He has struggled some since moving up to Scranton, where his ERA stands at 4.37, but he's still striking out more than a batter per inning (38 SO in 35 innings).

But he has developed a good four-pitch mix. This from

Warren didn't use his slider much in college but it's now his best weapon after gaining velocity and life, ranging from 84-88 mph with severe sweep and more than 3,000 rpm. He gets groundouts with a two-seam fastball that sits at 91-93 mph, peaks at 95 and is more reliable than a four-seamer that topped out at 97 last season. He also has an upper-70s curveball with high spin rates and a mid-80s changeup with some fade.
With his variety of pitches, Warren can work the top and bottom of the strike zone and both sides of the plate. His delivery is sound and he provides strikes...

Warren might be in over his head at Triple-A, or he might need a little more time to develop into a solid rotation piece. But it is exactly that--wait for it--potential that makes him valuable as a trade piece.

But no active pitcher in the Yankees system has much upside as the man next on our list.

SP Yoendrys Gomez; Patriots

The Yankees signed Gomez back in 2016, and he's dealt with a number of nagging injuries since then. But since his return last June, he has shined. He finished last year with a 2.49 ERA and a WHIP of 1.17 while striking out a batter per inning (49 in 47 innings) across three leagues.

This year, like Pereira, he's even better.

Playing exclusively for Double-A Somerset, Gomez sports an ERA of 1.21. Plus, he's only given up one home run, the same number he gave up last year. He throws upwards of 98 mph and has a, "sweeping 82-85 mph slider that grades as plus at its best and a 79-82 mph curveball that can be a solid offering..."

His durability issues might push him into the bullpen, but teams have learned by now you have to have high-leverage guys in the bullpen if you want to win it all. Gomez projects to at least be that, if not a mid-rotation arm.

If he can stay healthy; if.

Either way, the Yankees will undoubtedly move one if not more of these men, and soon. But who should the Yankees try to bring in?

That's an article for another day.


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