A Generational Trade Deadline

Say what you will about the New York Yankees' front office, but one thing you have to hand them is that they refuse to give up on this season, regardless of what the standings, the media, or (some) fans are telling them.

It is no surprise that moves were coming, based on the shows of complete and repeated underperformance. At times, the offense has looked completely anemic, at others, the bullpen has auditioned, on multiple occasions surrendering leads of 4+ runs. And by multiple, of course, I mean, painfully frequent. For perspective, here's how different the season could have looked a couple days ago:

This just scratches the surface; the Yankees have had 16 blown leads this season. If they won just half of those, or 8 games, they'd be tied for first place. All you can say is, what if? Nonetheless, the cards fell where they had to, and the Yankees found themself hovering just a couple of games over .500 going into the trade deadline, a country mile back in the division and a few games out of the wild card race. Changes had to be made, and while some believed it might've been worth it to sell away a couple of pieces and try and recoup for the 2022 season, the Yankees disagreed. In one of Brian Cashman's—and league-wide for that matter—most active trade deadlines ever, they went out and made five separate trades with the Reds, Pirates, Rangers, Cubs and Angels, acquiring five different players. In a Ninja Cash masterclass, they also recieved cash compensation/consideration from all three of Texas, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

To recap, the Yankees added: - INF/OF Joey Gallo - 1B Anthony Rizzo - RHP Clay Holmes - LHP Joely Rodriguez - LHP Andrew Heaney - PTBNL

They lost: - RHP Luis Cessa - LHP Justin Wilson - CF Kevin Alcantara - SS Diego Castillo - SS Ezequiel Duran - 2B Trevor Hauver - RHP Janson Junk - RHP Glenn Otto - SS Hoy Park - RHP Elvis Peguero - 2B Josh Smith - RHP Alex Vizcaino

None of those prospects are in the Yankees' top 5, two are Top 10, and seven are Top 30. Considering that the Yankees paid a grand total of $0 for their marquee acquisitions this year, that's a pretty great trade deadline. Let's take a look at all of them and where they fit.

Joey Gallo

Under control through: 2022

Here he is. The white whale, the piece de resistance, the crown jewel. Yankee fans on the internet had been pining for Gallo since at least the start of Spring Training, and according to recent reports, the Yankees had their hooks in this trade since then as well. Gallo is both the exact type of three-true-outcome hitter that represent the "new direction" of baseball and exactly what this lineup was missing. Left-handed power in the outfield with stellar defense to complement it. He's in the prime of his career at 27, locked up for this year and the next, and barring a disappointment of epic proportions, it's hard to imagine the Yankees won't at least extend him a contract at the end of the 2022 season, if not prioritize his re-signing. Gallo brings to the Yankees a .220/.377/.484 slash line with an unreal .371 wOBA and 137 wRC+. That immediately slots him in among the top 3 hitters on the team. Much less is normally said about his defense, which is a shame, because he sports a 6 OAA (Outs Above Average) alongside a 4.4 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), both metrics which portray him as the best defensive outfielder on the team this year. It's not particularly close. Gallo is primed to feast on the Yankee Stadium short porch, and between Judge and Stanton, he represents a nightmare for opposing pitchers and managers who must now pick a strategy other than "use-seven-right-handed-specialists-until-they-fold." Oh, and he doesn't cost a penny.

Anthony Rizzo

Under control through: 2021

No, you did not see this coming, and if you say you did, please send me a direct message on Twitter so we can work out the lottery numbers, thank you. Cubs first baseman and franchise icon Anthony Rizzo was rumored to be a key target for the Boston Red Sox (who, by the way, let the deadline come and go adding only an injured Kyle Schwarber), so it feels all that much sweeter that he ended up on our payroll instead. Rizzo provides a type of durability and defensive prowess (I'm talking Gold Glove–level) that the Yankees have not had at the position since it was manned by Mark Teixeira. He may not be the hitter he was back when he was the cornerstone of the Cubs' historic 2016 season, but no one is complaining—he still packs a solid punch, hitting to a .252/.350/.457 slash line with a .349 wOBA and 118 wRC+ this season. With Luke Voit out for an indefinite amount of time, he'll be the regular starter at first base for the Yanks. What's challenging to figure out is what happens once Voit's back. Prevailing sense would say that Rizzo keeps the spot even once Voit is back, moving the latter to the everyday DH spot, and putting Stanton in left. With Stanton's injury history, that could either be disastrous, or it might even up his durability a notch as he gets to loosen his body up more regularly. Rizzo's under control through the end of 2021, and although Cashman admitted that he was a move made with the short-term in mind, it's not out of the question that the team looks at putting him back in pinstripes if he is able to deliver solid production in the middle of the order.

Andrew Heaney

Under team control through: 2021

Andrew Heaney (now formerly) of the Los Angeles Angels represented Cashman's almost yearly-signature wild card move at the deadline. It was common knowledge they were in on starting pitching, but especially after the Rizzo acquisition and reports that the Yankees were attempting to ship out Voit, you'd have assumed they'd target a Jose Berrios or the like. But it would be entirely unfair to dunk on this move, since it is far from the only improvement the Yankees have made. Heaney is a left-hander joining the rotation sporting a 5.27 ERA, which, interestingly, is almost a whole run and spare change (!) above his 4.05 FIP. He also comes in with a 3.27 SIERA, and consistently ranks Top-30 in peripherals. How come he isn't performing, then? Home runs. Heaney has an unflattering proclivity for the long ball, especially on his fastball (which he uses 60% of the time), but has plus stuff on both his breaking stuff and his offspeed pitches. If he can do something about the fastball—use it a sinker like Jameson Taillon does (credit:@RyanGarciaYST on Twitter)—there's a good chance he can turn into a pretty solid back-of-the-rotation starter or long bullpen arm.

The Yankees season so far has been far from fun. Only time will tell if the deadline trades are enough to net the Yankees a Wild Card, or maybe even a 1978-esque rally to snatch the division from the Rays or Red Sox. Either way, with these moves, it's hard to argue against the fact that the team definitely has new life.

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