Losing two games in a row to the last place Tampa Bay Rays is not a way to convince your General Manager that he should buy instead of sell. After two weeks of promising baseball where the Yankees put in good performances and series victories against some of the top teams in baseball, the bottom finally fell out. Brian Cashman was ready and pulled the trigger by sending one of the best, if not the best, relievers in baseball Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for a package of four prospects headlined by OF Clint Frazier. Frazier is the 21st best prospect in baseball according for Baseball America while LHP Justus Sheffield is 69th. Getting two Top-100 prospects is a nice haul and they also got a pair of relief prospects with big arms, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.
Yankees now have one of the best farm systems in game. Frazier, Torres, Mateo, Sanchez, Judge, Sheffield, Rutherford, Kaprielian and more.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2016
What kind of world is it where the Yankees have that kind of talent in the minor leagues. That list doesn’t even mention Luis Severino and Greg Bird, who have exhausted their prospect status, or 2016 first round pick Blake Rutherford. After moving Miller and the trade of Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees now have seven of the Top-100 prospects in baseball: Jorge Mateo (19), Frazier (21), Gleyber Torres (27), Gary Sanchez (36), Aaron Judge (42), Sheffield (69), James Kaprielian (99). The future of the organization is certainly looking bright.
All that being said, this trade stings. When the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman, they weren’t necessarily committing to selling off everything and anything they could. The Chapman deal was a pure baseball move (with some hints of ‘sell sell sell’ mixed in) by trading a pending free agent, maximizing value and getting more back than you gave up. It was a slam dunk, no-brainer. Trading Andrew Miller was not obvious by any means. Miller is signed through 2018 at $9 million a year. His value was extremely high, but it wasn’t limited to the next few days. If the Yankees didn’t trade Miller, they would still have one of the best relievers in the game for at least two more years.
Not to say the Yankees didn’t get a nice package for Miller, it’s just that I wouldn’t have personally traded him. I thought his value was just as high staying with the club and closing ballgames for the foreseeable future. However, re-signing Chapman in the offseason is a serious possibility and if you’re not going to win this season, then trading Miller does make sense. Also, if the Yankees somehow were able to swing a trade for Chris Sale and David Robertson (a man can dream, can’t he?) then that would also make a ton of sense. I have no doubt the Yankees will replace Miller – they still have a guy named Dellin Betances by the way – but right now losing him hurts.
By trading Andrew Miller, it seems clear that this should – I stress should – trigger a fire sale. Carlos Beltran is the next obvious piece to move. What’s the point in keeping a 39-year-old DH playing RF if you have no realistic hope of competing this season. Cashman can say whatever he wants; you don’t trade Andrew Miller if you think you can compete this season. You just don’t. Beltran needs to be moved now. That’s a given. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira also have no place on the team anymore. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi are some other names that could be on the move before the deadline. Outside of Betances, Didi Gregorius, Masahiro Tanaka and maybe Starlin Castro, there really isn’t a player at the ML level they shouldn’t look to trade.
Selling Andrew Miller and not going into a total fire sale would be a big mistake. The next 24+ hours will be interesting to say the least.