Yanks focused on end goal after stellar 1st half
Despite MLB's second-best record at 62-33, club looking up at Red Sox
The Yankees completed the first half with a 62-33 record that 28 of the other 29 teams would have gladly swapped for. The one club with a better record happens to be leading the American League East, and so as they aim to chase down the Red Sox, manager Aaron Boone says there is no satisfaction in what the Yanks have accomplished.
"Our expectation is that we're going to be great," Boone said. "We've put ourselves in a position to have that opportunity, but we've got a long way [to go to be] that complete team that we hope to be in the end. To these guys' credit, they've put themselves in a really strong position."
Finishing the first half 29 games above the break-even mark, the Yankees' first-half performance earned a place alongside such juggernauts as the 1939 (53-22), '53 (56-26) and '98 (61-20) squads -- all of whom reached the All-Star break with commanding winning percentages and went on to win the World Series. Can this group follow suit?
"I thought the first half went pretty well," Brett Gardner said. "Ultimately, our goal is to win the division at the end of the year. Right now, we're not in the lead in the division, so we've got to play better baseball. I think there's definitely room for improvement across the board."
Current status: Buyer
General manager Brian Cashman has said that this group has proven itself worthy of taking a legitimate crack at a deep postseason run. Cashman is gauging the marketplace on starting pitching and has kicked the tires on position players, with what was said to have been a "strong offer" for the Orioles' Manny Machado having generated the most headlines.
What they are seeking
Starting pitching has been at the top of the priority list since the offseason, urgency that increased when the Yankees lost Jordan Montgomery to season-ending surgery. The Yanks have been connected to Michael Fulmer of the Tigers, Cole Hamels of the Rangers, J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays and Zack Wheeler of the Mets, among others. If those price tags are prohibitive, they are open to upgrading their formidable bullpen to further shorten games.
What they have to offer
Reports have indicated that the Yankees declined to offer their top prospects for Machado, though they may be more willing to do so for pitching help. Outfielder Clint Frazier, left-hander Justus Sheffield and right-hander Domingo Acevedo have been asked about by opposing clubs. Infielders Miguel Andujar, Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade would also draw interest.
Short of a blockbuster deal like importing Machado from the Orioles or convincing the Mets to move Jacob deGrom across town (the latter move would likely cost at least Gleyber Torres), the Yankees could acquire Happ, Fulmer, the Rays' Nathan Eovaldi or the Padres' Tyson Ross. That, combined with promoting Sheffield to the Majors, would shore up their rotation. The bullpen could be upgraded by promoting Tommy Kahnle from Triple-A. Frazier could anchor one of the deals, offering him playing time that has not been available in New York.