TAMPA, Fla. -- The safe play is for Brian Cashman to maintain a pessimistic stance when he surveys his Yankees roster, believing that if they prepare for the worst-case scenario, it is always easier to adjust when a better situation presents itself.As the Yankees usher in this new chapter, opinions
TAMPA, Fla. -- The safe play is for Brian Cashman to maintain a pessimistic stance when he surveys his Yankees roster, believing that if they prepare for the worst-case scenario, it is always easier to adjust when a better situation presents itself.
As the Yankees usher in this new chapter, opinions are mixed on what the influx of young talent will mean on the field in 2017. If the Yankees stay healthy and get contributions from players like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, Cashman believes they will be Wild Card contenders at the least.
"The whole spectrum: We could be extremely good, or with some injuries in key areas, it could be a difficult situation," Cashman said.
Without that knowledge, it is a challenge for Cashman and his staff to know what their mindset will be in late July, when they work the phones in advance of what is expected to be a hectic non-waiver Trade Deadline.
If the Yankees are within striking distance of the postseason chase, the flurry of pre-July 31 activity could present an opportunity to cash in some of their top-rated prospects to address areas of need, especially a weak starting rotation that counted Masahiro Tanaka, Carsten Sabathia and Michael Pineda as its only locks coming into camp.
The White Sox haven't budged on their high asking price for Jose Quintana, but the lefty remains one of the most attractive targets. Chicago had insisted on getting either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier from the Yankees to headline a Quintana package.
Torres' impressive spring likely makes him untouchable, but Frazier could be more expendable, especially considering the Yankees' outfield logjam. Perhaps right-hander Chance Adams could help anchor a deal; Cashman said that he was not shy about putting high-end prospects on the table to get deals done this past offseason.
The Athletics' Sonny Gray may represent an upgrade as the Yanks push through the summer months, and if their teams fall out of contention, the Rays' Alex Cobb, the D-backs' Zack Greinke and the Tigers' Justin Verlander all could be made available.
Should the Yankees struggle, it is possible that they would attempt a repeat of last year's Deadline, when they flipped Carlos Beltran, Albertin Chapman, Andrew Miller and Ivan Nova for prospects in order to accelerate the rebuilding process of what is now rated as one of the league's top farm systems.
Tyler Clippard, Matthew Holliday, Pineda and Sabathia are free agents after the 2017 season and could draw interest from contending clubs. Brett Gardner drew trade interest over the winter and could again be dangled, with clubs likely enticed by his relatively affordable contract (owed $26 million through '18). The Yankees hope not to wander down the path of a midseason sell-off again, but their success in doing so last year at least suggests that will be a viable option.
"I'm optimistic about this season, because I think there's a good mixture and there's a lot of talent in that room," manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes with young players you have to manage how they handle certain situations, whether it's struggling for a couple of weeks and how they respond, but we're up for that task. I think we have good veteran leadership in there that will help the young players through that."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.