The 2013 MLB trade deadline is just a few days away, and the New York Yankees have the potential to be one of the most active teams on July 31. The club has been at the center of several trade rumors, as they try to make the playoffs.
The Yankees find themselves in an unusual position 60 percent of the way through the year. They are seven games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East, and three games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot. The Yankees usually consider a season a failure if they don’t win the World Series, so they may consider several deals in their attempt to reach the postseason.
The Yankees certainly have the assets to pull off a significant move. While the team is, somewhat, depleted at the major league level, the 27-time champions have a few highly touted prospects.
Mason Williams is probably the best player in the Yankees minor league system. At 21 years old, he was named the 32nd best prospect in the MLB, according to Baseball America. In 81 games for Single-A Tampa, the outfielder is hitting .282 with three home runs, 21 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
At this point in the season, the Yankees may not be looking to trade Williams. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported in December that the prospect could be packaged in a deal for Justin Upton, but it doesn’t appear that any star players will be moved in the coming days. The Yankees aren't likely to trade Williams for a player that will become a free agent in the offseason.
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Catching prospect Gary Sanchez was also mentioned in the proposed trade for Upton, who eventually went to the Atlanta Braves. Baseball America put him at No.57 overall. Playing alongside Williams, the 20-year-old has 13 homers and 64 RBI with a .264 batting average.
It might be hard for the Yankees to part with Sanchez because of their lack of depth at catcher in the majors. Austin Romine has been one of the worst players in baseball since being called up to the big leagues this year. He has a .408 OPS, and the team may be coming to the realization that he isn’t their catcher of the future.
J.R. Murphy may be the most likely Yankee prospect to be dealt. Justin Morneau has been on New York’s radar, and Bowden has reported that Murphy is one of the players that they’d be willing to move. The catcher isn’t as highly regarded as Sanchez, but has hit .291 since being promoted to Triple-A. The Yankees could move him for Morneau to help them in 2013, without mortgaging their future at the position.
Morneau is a perfect candidate to be traded by the deadline. The first baseman is on a Minnesota Twins team that is 12 games under .500, and he has an expiring contract. Morneau's power numbers have dipped this year, with only seven home runs and a .397 slugging percentage. The 32-year-old could benefit from playing at the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, as well as leaving Target Field, which seems to have affected his production.
If the Yankees can’t land Morneau, they may look elsewhere for help on offense. New York's inability to score runs has been a major downfall this season. The Yankees sport a .242 batting average and no other American League team has a worse slugging percentage.
Michael Young has been a reported target of the Yankees, though he’s been rumored to be involved in a possible deal with Phil Hughes. Alfonso Soriano could also have a second tour of duty with New York. The Chicago Cubs outfielder told Theo Epstein that he would accept a deal to his former team, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.