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Which Yankees are out of options and Rule 5 eligible before the deadline

We’re 11 days away from the 2022 MLB Trade Deadline and the Yankees seem connected to all the big names available on the market. At least hypothetically. Despite being the best team in the league there are some obvious areas for improvement on the roster.

With the deadline approaching we will be taking a look at players on the 40-man roster who are out of options after this year as well as players in the farm system who are Rule 5 eligible this winter. These players are the ones most likely to be pushed in talks by Brian Cashman and company as a way of upgrading. We’ve seen it before. The Zack Britton, Andrew Heaney, and Joey Gallo trades just to name a few were all examples of packages with prospects on the cusp of Rule 5 eligibility. For that reason let’s take a look at the players likely to be most heavily rumored over the next week and a half.

Out of options after 2022

OF Estevan Florial – Stats (Triple-A): 71 games, .300/.383/.523, 12 HR, 28 SB, 140 wRC+, 28.8 K%, 11.7 BB%

I’ll start with the one likely atop everyones mind. Every time Joey Gallo strikes out in the majors you can hear the keyboards of Yankees twitter whisking in the wind calling for Florial. At this point I get it. The “he can’t possibly be worse” adage is usually false. Most times it CAN be worse. In the case of Gallo though, it is highly unlikely.  If there was better roster flexibility here without sacrificing depth Florial would have gotten a chance by now.

There are some logical reasons to keep him down though. His .406 BABIP indicates luck has been on his side in 2022. A stabilization to the norm could happen quickly when exposed to better pitchers in The Show. Additionally, while his strike out rate is down about 2% from last year, he is still striking out at an alarming rate. His 28.8 K% would be 15th worst in the majors. Given that is happening in Triple-A, that number would probably spike even further against better competition. Swing and miss will always be part of his game, but continuing to work on pitch recognition in a lower pressure environment is important here. First 0-4 with 4 K’s in the Bronx and the tone will change quickly.

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Most importantly is the need for consistent playing time. Florial has been around forever it seems, but only once in his career has he exceeded 100 games played and that was back in 2017. While it may be coincidence, that was also his best overall season statistically and the one that put him on the prospect map. Of all Yankees prospects, the pandemic arguably hurt Florial the most. For a guy that needed at-bats that lost development time was crucial. That makes every at-bat now even more valuable. Call him up and he’s fighting Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Carpenter, and Gallo for at-bats. His best situation is one getting every day playing time.

I’m getting off topic at this point. Florial is having the best year we could have hoped for. Had he posted another clunker he would’ve been on the outside looking in for 2023. I don’t think he is untouchable at the deadline. If he’s the final piece in a Luis Castillo or Juan Soto trade, do it. Outside of that I get the hunch the Yankees would prefer to hold on to him. He’s the closest thing the Yankees have to a major league ready centerfielder and I could see him being given the 4th outfielder job next year with room to grow into more.

Verdict: Hold, but not too tightly

RHP Deivi Garcia – Stats (Triple-A): 7 starts, 21.2 IP, 10.38 ERA, 7.48 K/9, 6.65 BB/9, 2.08 HR/9

Oh how the mighty have fallen. This is a guy that two years ago started (lol) a playoff game for the Yankees. I am not sure where it all went South for Deivi but man did it happen fast. The last two years have been so bad that he isn’t in the Yankees plans anymore. Garcia hasn’t pitched in a real game since the end of May due to a finger injury. Last we heard about a month ago he is healthy but getting “reset” at the teams minor league complex. Maybe he comes out of there and starts dealing again. It just seems improbable at this point.

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Despite the carnage Garcia is only 23 years old and somewhere in there is still the arsenal that made him a top prospect not too long ago. Because of that he will get a few more chances but right now his value at this point is almost certainly zero. He is nothing more than a throw in last piece for a rebuilding team that hopes they can salvage him. It might behoove the Yankees to bring him back as reliever the last few months and see what he can do. The clock is ticking too loudly for it to click as a starter before 2023.

I’d believe Garcia is as available as it gets. It would take a miracle for him to get himself back on the map before camp breaks next year. His best chance is on a bad team that can tinker around and see if he can get right. Thats a shame because in the not too distant past he looked like a potential building block for the Bombers.

Verdict: Take him if you want him

OF Miguel Andujar – Stats (Tripe-A): 51 games, .303/.351/.477, 8 HR, 120 wRC+, 12.3 K%, 6.6 BB%

Another member of the “how can he possibly be worse” club. We all know Andujar’s story. I wrote about it back in April. Since then not much has changed. He has raked in the minors where he has nothing left to prove but he still has no place on the Yankees roster. News came out in June he requested a trade but that has yet to be granted.

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The knock on Andujar has always been his defense. The Yankees moved him to left field a few years back because his infield defense was so bad. To his credit Miguel looked considerably more comfortable in left in his 12 appearances in the Bronx this year. FanGraphs has credited him with 3 DRS in 106 innings out there in 2022. Could just be small sample size noise but he has passed the eye test.

It’s a tough position for all involved. The Yankees don’t really need him when they’re healthy but he’s more valuable to them as depth than anything they’d get in a trade for him. Having a Rookie of the Year runner up with a career 106 wRC+ in the majors one call away is a luxury few teams have.

I think Andujar is available at the deadline but the Yankees aren’t going to give him away just to do it. If he gets a deadline deal across the finish line then Cashman won’t hesitate to pull the trigger. That being said, the Yankees are always just an injury or two away from needing him. This feels like one of those things where as soon as you deal him we’ll be saying “dang, I wish they still had Andujar around”. Damned if you, damned if you don’t.

Verdict: Available, but likely better held as depth

RHP Luis Medina – Stats (Double-A): 16 starts, 67 IP, 3.63 ERA, 10.21 K/9, 5.24 BB/9, 0.54 HR/9

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The book remains largely unchanged on Luis Medina. He still has world class stuff, strikes out a bunch of hitters, and walks too many batters. When he is on, he is unhittable. When he is off, he is unwatchable. Theres always those stretches where you ask yourself “is he finally putting it together?” (June 3rd-June 15th: 15.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 24 K) followed by stretches where you say “never mind” (July 2nd-July 8th: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 9 BB, 1 HBP, 7 K).

To be honest I am a bit surprised the Yankees haven’t gone the Dellin Betances route with Medina yet given the looming roster decision. If Medina is going to help the Yankees next year it’s going to be in the bullpen, not the rotation. He seems like a guy that can just dominate in shorter stints and mask his control issues. I digress.

Because of all this Luis is amongst the most likely players dealt in the next week and a half. The Yankees wouldn’t necessarily be thrilled about giving him up since if it clicks, it’ll click loud. But their hand is forced. Their roster is too good to have a guy trying to figure it out on the fly and Medina can’t be optioned in 2023. A rebuilding team can afford the luxury of dealing with Medina’s growing pains with hopes that he puts it together. Medina has a the most value of the guys on this list so far and for that reason he will likely be pushed heavily in talks.

Verdict: Highly available and will be pushed heavily

Rule 5 Eligible Players

Top Prospects

LHP Ken Waldichuk – Stats (Double-A, Triple-A): 15 starts, 70 IP, 2.44 ERA, 13.63 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9

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Ken Waldichuk exploded onto the scene last year after being a 5th round pick of the Yankees in 2019. He has continued that ascension this year, reaching Triple-A and making his way onto MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects list. The book on Waldichuk is that his stuff has improved since being drafted and it plays up due to the deception in his delivery. There is middle of the rotation potential here and at worst, he seems like a guy who can dominate from the ‘pen the way Michael King has.

As the Yankees top pitching prospect Waldichuk is a lock to be added to the roster this offseason. One could argue moving him into a relief role right now and bringing him up for the postseason makes sense. His dominance against lefties (.139/.243/.246) could help in potential playoff series’ against the Yordan Alvarez and Rafael Devers of the world.

With the Yankees being mentioned in talks for Luis Castillo and Juan Soto, Waldichuk’s name is going to come up. It wouldn’t shock me if he is included as the second or third piece if the Yankees are serious about guys of that caliber. The Yankees would obviously prefer to hold here but look no further than Deivi Garcia above to see that it makes sense to cash in on pitching prospects most of the time. I think Ken is available in the right package.

Verdict: Prefer to hold but available for All-Star talent

RHP Hayden Wesneski – Stats (Triple-A): 17 starts, 82 IP, 3.51 ERA, 8.34 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9

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Another success story from the 2019 draft, Hayden Wesneski as drafted one round after his now rotation-mate Ken Waldichuk and beat him to Triple-A, reaching the level in 2021. Scouting reports on Wesneski say that he pounds the zone consistently and has a level of deception to his delivery. Also, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Hayden has seen his stuff jump up a level since being drafted by the Yankees.

Wesneski doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who is going to wow you or lead your staff, but he is a solid bet to turn into a consistent bottom of the rotation starter. He is more or less ready for a chance in the major leagues and for that reason will be a name on the lips of any team talking business with Brian Cashman.

He falls in the same bucket as Waldichuk. A lock to be added to the roster this offseason if he is still around, but available in talks as a secondary piece in the right deal. The Yankees would likely prefer to keep Waldichuk over Wesneski given the higher upside. Either way it feels like the Yankees will have to deal at least one of the two if they’re serious about getting high end talent.

Verdict: Prefer to hold but more available than Ken Waldichuk

RHP Randy Vasquez – Stats (Double-A): 16 starts, 73.2 IP, 4.52 ERA, 9.29 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, 1.10 HR/9

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There was some confusion wether Randy Vasquez was Rule 5 eligible last offseason or not. Turns out he wasn’t and the Yankees got another year of development time. Vasquez took a leap forward in 2021 to put himself on the radar, posting a 2.52 ERA across three levels and 107.1 innings. The reports on him are he has a mid-90’s fastball that he pairs with a high spin curveball as his primary two pitches. His slider and changeup are a couple steps behind those two offerings.

There is still some hope he can make it as a starter but right now his profile is leaning toward high-leverage reliever. Arms like Randy’s are a dime a dozen these days for the Yankees. If he is still around this winter he’ll be added to the 40-man but his inclusion in the original version of the Joey Gallo trade last summer is telling. The Yankees view him as expendable and I don’t think anything he has done over the last 12 months has changed that. Vasquez is high on the list of prospects most likely to be dealt in the coming days.

Verdict: Highly available and will be pushed heavily

The Catchers

Anthony Seigler – Stats (Low-A, High-A): 61 games, .254/.432/.430, 7 HR, 19.9 K%, 21.2 BB%
Antonio Gomez – Stats (Low-A): 53 games, .237/.335/.321, 3 HR, 96 wRC+, 28.5 K%, 11.3 BB%
Josh Breaux – Stats (Double-A, Triple-A): 60 games, .230/.301/.477, 15 HR, 26.3 K%, 8.8 BB%

I’m going to lump these three together given their positional similarity.

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Anthony Seigler was the Yankees first round pick way back in 2018 and has finally been healthy enough to stay on the field this year after totaling 95 games since being drafted. With that health has come production, and Seigler is putting together an interesting enough season to put himself back on the map. I can’t get a read here. It’s either the Yankees are buying the break out and want to hold him or there’s “trade him before he gets hurt again” urgency. I would say given the lack of catcher depth the Yankees would prefer to hold and add Seigler to the roster, but I don’t think he’s untouchable by any means.

Antonio Gomez is the best defensive catcher the Yankees have in the lower minors. Dude has a cannon as an arm. The bat is still catching up, which is fine. He struggled enough at the onset of the season to be demoted from Low-A but has been much better since his return. I don’t think Gomez has enough value yet to move the needle in any trades. He also isn’t really a risk to stick in the Rule 5 draft so I don’t think he’ll be protected. Gomez will probably still be in the organization come August.

Josh Breaux was the Yankees second round pick in 2018 and his profile hasn’t changed much since. Not a great catcher, not a great hitter, and can put a mistake in the seats. The Yankees left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft that didn’t happen last year and that’ll likely be the case again this year. He doesn’t move the needle in any trade packages but if someone wants him then Cashman will let him go.

Verdict:
Seigler – Prefer to hold but available in the right deal
Gomez – Available but unlikely to move the needle
Breaux – Take him if you want him

Theres still hope

LHP T.J. Sikkema – Stats (High-A): 11 games (10 starts), 36.1 IP, 2.48 ERA, 13.38 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9
RHP Matt Sauer – Stats (High-A): 15 starts, 76.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 10.68 K/9, 3.17 BB/9, 0.70 HR/9

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Lumping these two together as well given their similar pedigree. Sikkema was a sandwich round pick in 2019 but has not pitched at all since that same year due to multiple injuries. Now 23, he has come back and flashed interesting stuff in his 36.1 innings thus far. He mixes his low-to-mid 90’s fastball with a deceptive delivery and multiple arm angles to keep the hitter off balance. Like Seigler I think there might be some “trade him before he gets hurt again” here.

Matt Sauer was a second round pick long ago in 2017. He too has struggled to stay healthy. He is repeating High-A after putting up pretty meh numbers there last year and while the ERA looks better, the rest of the underlying numbers appear to be the same. Matt was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft last year and that’s going to happen again this winter.

Of these two players the Yankees probably prefer to hold T.J. more to get a longer look at what they have. Despite that, it feels neither has done enough to warrant a 40-man roster spot in the offseason. If a team wants one of these guys at the deadline they’re as good as gone.

Verdict: Highly available

Loud Tools, Quiet Results

OF/1B/DH Anthony Garcia – Stats (Low-A): 75 games, .201/.387/.368, 11 HR, 20 SB, 128 wRC+, 39.7 K%, 22.6 BB%
SS Alexander Vargas – Stats (Low-A): 73 games, .197/.273/.306, 6 HR, 22 SB, 69 wRC+, 30.4 K%, 9.4 BB%

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These guys have extremely different underlying skill sets but they’re at similar crossroads in their career. Garcia is a high exit velocity masher with limited contact ability and almost no defensive value. Vargas’ calling card is his speed and defense and the bat has yet to catch up. Both have struggled mightily in Low-A this season.

Given their Rule 5 eligibility I doubt either moves the needle in trades this July. Even for a rebuilding club they both seem too far away from the majors to add to a roster and hope it clicks in the next three years. If any team wants them though, Cashman would put them on the table. Short of that, there doesn’t seem to be much risk of either getting picked this winter and the Yankees will have another year to hope they put it together under their watch.

Verdict: Highly available if you want them

Best of the rest

OF Brandon Lockridge – Stats (Double-A): 68 games, .241/.303/.381, 7 HR, 11 SB, 87 wRC+, 26.9 K%, 7.4 BB%
OF Ryder Green – Stats (Low-A): 6 games, .238/.304/.381, 1 HR, 1 SB, 99 wRC+, 30.4 K%, 8.7 BB%
RHP Juan Carela – Stats (Low-A): 14 games (13 starts), 70.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, 11.97 K/9, 3.69 BB/9, 0.64 HR/9
RHP Tyrone Yulie – Stats (Low-A): 14 starts, 58 IP, 4.19 ERA, 8.84 K/9, 5.43 BB/9, 0.78 HR/9
LHP Matt Krook – Stats (Triple-A): 17 games (14 starts), 85 IP, 4.13 ERA, 10.59 K/9, 4.02 BB/9, 1.27 HR/9

RHP Jhony Brito – Stats (Double-A, Triple-A): 16 games (15 starts), 83.2 IP, 2.80 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9
LHP Edgar Barclay – Stats (High-A): 16 games (2 starts), 36.1 IP, 1.98 ERA, 10.9 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9

Lockridge is a no doubt center fielder with speed who was left unprotected last year. He has struggled in his second taste of Double-A and I don’t think the Yankees will add him to the 40-man this year. I could see him getting a chance with another club but he would probably be returned. Greene has loud tools and was a third round pick back in 2018. He, like several others I have written about, has struggled to stay on the field. If he puts it together there is a high reward here but he is 22 and has yet to get out of Low-A. If a team likes either of these guys in a trade package, off they go.

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Seemingly every year one guy we think is fringe makes it on the Yankees 40-man when it comes time to protect players. The five pitchers above have the potential to fall into that category.

Carela is the most interesting of the bunch in my opinion and seems to be on the way to becoming a legitimate pitching prospect. He turns just 21 this December. I think the Yankees will protect him when the time comes if he is still in the organization but if he can be added as a secondary piece at the deadline it might make sense to deal him.

Yulie has some loud stuff but is still working to harness it. Given his distance from the majors he is unlikely to be protected. Barclay has broken out and is an interesting relief prospect. It’s not out of the question we could find him in Triple-A by the end of next year. To me he has the most “random guy added” potential of the group. Chances are either of these guys can be had by opposing teams if they’re interested.

Brito and Krook are prime Rule 5 fodder. They’re both in Triple-A and might be worth a look in the bullpen of a rebuilding team. On the outside looking in for 40-man spots in New York, they both can be had at the deadline.

Verdict: Prefer to hold Carela, everyone else is highly available

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