As we inch closer to the halfway mark of the season the Yankees pitching without CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda has outperformed our wildest expectations. The rotation is widely anchored by the Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, who is en route to obtain his first Cy Young award. But let’s not forget rookie Chase Whitley and the otherworldly back-end of the bullpen have also attributed to their teams success. But in an AL East that contains the titan-like bats of Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz or Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion the Yankees are forced to explore their options in search of another big bat.
As much as the Yankees would love to acquire one of the biggest bats available in Alex Rios or Adrian Beltre they aren’t willing to jump ship on their farm system.
Perhaps the team’s biggest bargaining chip is 22 year old catcher John Ryan Murphy. The young catcher is hitting .286 with one home run and 8 RBI in 63 at-bats on the young season. The Yankees AA catcher Gary Sanchez is also expected to be expendable after the offseason signing of Brian McCann. Though many believe Murphy to have surpassed Gary Sanchez both in value and in talent. There are even some that believe the Yankees could have spent their money elsewhere rather than on Brian McCann with the promising development of John Ryan. The Yankees recently demoted Murphy to insure he gets regular playing time and has continued to garner interest from multiple clubs.
One of the biggest names being tossed around this summer is Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. The 35 year old has compiled 33 RBI’s, 24 doubles, and is hitting an impressive .305. A veteran like Utley would fit right into the Yankees veteran clubhouse atmosphere and ready to win now mentality. Utley is no stranger to the dimensions of Yankee Stadium as he would have without a doubt taken home the World Series MVP honors in 2009 if the Phillies would have won. Utley tied the record for most home runs(5) in the World Series with none other than Mr.October himself. With the addition of Utley to the lineup it would allow Jacoby Ellsbury to return to the leadoff spot where he had been accustomed to hitting in during his best years with the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees have attempted to acquire the former All Star but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been reluctant to trade any member the aging core of his team still believing they had another run left in them. It wasn’t until recently the Phillies GM seemed sound more open to the possibility of deadline moves saying, “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen (to trade offers).” Amaro said. “I can’t say there are any untouchables.” Philadelphia could very well be interested in Murphy as Carlos Ruiz isn’t getting any younger.
Though Amaro seems to be more willing to listen to offers for his stars then in the past, it is still expected to take a hefty package to pry Utley from Philadelphia. Especially when Utley continues to perform at a higher level than Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Because of the expected high price tag, this makes a trade for Utley to New York a long shot as Amaro will surely ask for more young talent than just JR Murphy. Something that the Yankees don’t have a surplus of.
Another option for the Yankees is Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill. The 32 year old is coming off an injury plagued 2013 season and has compiled 6 home runs, 36 RBI’s, while hitting .251. Not the most impressive numbers in the world but this could mainly be due to the injury rattled Arizona Lineup that has been without sluggers Mark Trumbo and Cody Ross for the majority of the season. Hill is a former All Star and has hit over 25 home runs on three separate occasions including a 2012 season where he finished the season with 26 home runs and a .302 batting average.
A combination of not fully bouncing back from his 2013 injury and the lack of success in the Diamondbacks 2014 campaign thus far Hill’s value has dropped. His contract runs through the 2016 season where he will be 35. With all of these factors in the mix this makes Hill much less costly then other second baseman on the market like Chase Utley and Ben Zobrist. The bad news is that the Yankees lack trade chips that would intrigue Arizona. Catcher Miguel Montero is having another great season and is under contract through 2016. Arizona needs hitting prospects and the Yankees are reluctant to give up top hitting prospects Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo who will surely be coveted by Arizona.
The most feasible option for the Yankees is San Diego third baseman Chase Headley. Headley had a breakout 2012 season where he pounded 31 home runs while contributing 115 runs batted in. Headley has not been able to grasp that sweet swing since that season but has shown short stints of his former glory. Headley would fit into the third base as rookie Yangervis Solarte would return to a reserve role.
Heading into a contract year Headley was looking to impress and receive his big free agent contract but has not been able to capitalize in the pitcher friendly Petco Park since his breakout season. A change of scenery into a hitter friendly park like Yankee stadium may be just what Headley needs to replenish his name. This is a perfect fit for not only Headley but also the Yankees who would capitalize on Headley’s return to form as he looks to make big money this offseason.
The Padres are in search of a catcher after releasing Nick Hundley this spring as Yasmani Grandal is only starting temporarily as they search for a catcher. John Ryan Murphy fits the bill. Sure the Yankees will need to throw some other names into the mix but with Murphy and change for Headley seems like the most likely option for the Yankees as it works for both ends of the table.
My money says Chase Headley will be in pinstripes come August 1.