The 2023 MLB trade deadline is on the horizon, which means that rumor season is upon us. And the New York Yankees, in third place in the loaded American League East and in need of a shot in the arm with superstar Aaron Judge injured, are going to be one of the main teams involved in trade buzz.
The Yankees, nine games back of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays at the time of print, still have a chance to catch Tampa Bay. However, it might require general manager Brian Cashman to tinker with the roster this summer.
And we don't mean huge blockbuster deals either. Here are three sneaky trades the Yankees should consider to aid in their chase of the Rays.
Yankees: 3 trades to make to catch the Rays
3. Yankees trade for Mets outfielder Tommy Pham
Let's start with the most unlikely trade: the Yankees pulling off a deal with their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets, ahead of the deadline.
The Yankees and Mets have partnered up for just 16 trades since 1966, so it's not out of the question but it's also not the most likely occurrence either.
However, there might a reason for the two clubs to do business together this year. The Mets, 38-46, are crumbling under the weight of their own lofty expectations, so much so that it sounds like owner Steve Cohen is seriously thinking about making some big changes at the MLB trade deadline.
If the Mets become sellers, Cashman must pick up the phone and call. The obvious targets, Justin Verlander and Brandon Nimmo, will likely be too expensive to pull off.
But one player in particular, outfielder Tommy Pham, makes too much sense for the Yankees not to pursue.
Pham, 35, inked a one-year contract with the Mets this past offseason, so his age wouldn't be of any concern to the Yankees– he'd be a rental bat for the postseason push.
And a good one at that. Pham has rebounded nicely from a rough 2022 season, as he has posted a .892 OPS with nine home runs and nine stolen bases.
The Yankees, theoretically, have center field and right field covered with Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge- provided they stay healthy.
But they've had a revolving door in left field all season. Pham could immediately provide production and some more speed into the Yankees lineup.
The Yankees could offer up a couple young outfielder prospects not named Jasson Dominguez to the Mets, whose farm system is short on talent at the position.
2. Yankees trade for Rockies 3B Ryan McMahon
The Yankees have had some pretty good success with former Rockies infielders, right? DJ LeMahieu, who once made two All-Star teams and won a batting title with the Rockies, has enjoyed some productive years in the Bronx.
Why not go back to the well again? Josh Donaldson looks cooked and the aforementioned LeMahieu is in the midst of perhaps the worst slump of his career.
As a result, third base has been a barren wasteland for the Yankees, who have received the fourth-worst production at the position in terms of Wins Above Replacement.
Enter McMahon, who could provide offense- he's clubbed 13 home runs- and defense- he ranks first among all third basemen in the Statcast defensive metric Outs Above Average.
Not only that, but McMahon has also logged innings at the other infield spots in his career.
McMahon, who just agreed to a $70 million contract with Colorado in 2022, won't come cheap for the Yankees.
But perhaps the Yankees can entice the Rockies with a potential second baseman of the future in Oswald Peraza and a pitching prospect or two.
1. Yankees trade for Cubs OF Cody Bellinger, SP Kyle Hendricks
Ok we lied, maybe there is one semi-large blockbuster trade here. The Cubs, 38-45, are not quite ready for contention. Plus, their farm system is short on middle infielder prospects.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have needs in the outfield and could probably use another starting pitcher (you know the old adage).
Bellinger, who inked a one-year deal with the Cubs this past offseason, has seemed to look more like the back of his baseball card, despite what the underlying metrics say.
Plus, the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium was made for Bellinger's pull-heavy, left-handed swing. Who's to say that the Cubs outfielder, still just 27, couldn't rediscover his MVP form in Yankees pinstripes?
If the offensive potential wasn't enough, Bellinger also remains one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. There would be no better defensive outfield in baseball than one that features Bellinger, Bader and Judge.
Meanwhile, Hendricks, a fan favorite and the last remaining player from the 2016 World Series-winning Cubs team, has enjoyed a resurgent year at the age of 33.
The right-hander has pitched to a 2.81 ERA and 0.96 WHIP across 41 2/3 innings. His groundball tendencies- he owns a 45.9 percent groundball rate for his career, per Fangraphs- would be a match made in heaven in the homer-happy Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees have a strong rotation on paper with Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon- who has yet to pitch this year- Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino.
But adding Hendricks would give this rotation added balance and postseason experience.
Neither Cubs player would come cheap. But perhaps an offer including the likes of infielder Oswald Peraza, pitching prospect Drew Thorpe, and a pair of prospects ranked in the 10-20 range would get the job done.
None of these trades make the Yankees World Series favorites. But they would help to plug some holes on the roster as the team continues to chase the Rays.