Yankees eye more deals with Trade Deadline looming
Ownership's 'strong desire' to reinforce roster could mean more moves by Wednesday
LOS ANGELES -- If there was any doubt that the Yankees would be active buyers as this Trade Deadline approaches, that evaporated once Alfonso Soriano boarded a red-eye flight to New York, ready to report as a reinforcement for the team's low-octane lineup.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says he never had to switch into active gear as he counted down the days until July 31, since the organization has kept itself busy chasing pieces to help the big league roster since the early days of Spring Training.
Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline presents Cashman and his staff with one more opportunity to add run production or reinforce the pitching staff before waivers come into play, and Cashman said there is no reason to think that his cell phone have ample opportunity to draw a full charge between now and then.
"I don't know if we will be able to [add talent] or not, but ownership's commitment is still the same," Cashman said. "They have a strong desire to reinforce this team and find a way to get in the playoffs, and the season is now shorter."
The Yankees believe that Soriano will help them as they attempt to climb out of fourth place in the American League East and avoid an ending like 2008, the only time in the last 18 seasons that they have not qualified to participate in postseason play.
There was a sense of that on Sunday as Soriano delivered a game-winning hit, one of his four on the afternoon, to lift the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over the Rays at Yankee Stadium. They'd love if Soriano can continue to help bring back more of the magic.
"When I see Mariano [Rivera] pitching, and [Derek] Jeter hitting and me, it feels like old times, but the present," Soriano said. "We played together for three years and now, after 10 years, we come back and we are still playing together. It's very good."
Dating back to the spring, when a rash of disabled list assignments first started to impact the outlook of the year, the Yankees have been saying that they would consider it an in-season upgrade if they could just get all of the injured pieces of their roster back.
That plan might have worked fine if key contributors like Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Jeter hadn't picked up a frustrating habit of returning, only to be quickly lost to the disabled list again.
They've turned the lights out on Teixeira, who is done for the season, though Lyle Overbay has proven to be a capable replacement at first base. Jeter came back and homered in Sunday's win, while Granderson is envisioned to lend a needed boost sometime in early August.
Maybe the Yankees will be able to count on Alex Rodriguez at some point; then again, nothing seems certain with his situation. They could deal from an area of strength if they chose to dangle starter Phil Hughes or reliever Joba Chamberlain, but in Hughes' case, they might not want to give up the potential Draft pick compensation attached to his name.
It has also been clear that Cashman has not been shy to make incremental upgrades during this season, whether they've come as waiver claims or promotions from the Minor Leagues, but the surest route to make a splash seems to be just getting their injured players back in the lineup.
"We've been obviously trying to improve our offense to no avail throughout the season," Cashman said. "The available players in the marketplace were the expected players you'd think would be available in the marketplace. We've had to wait.
"Ultimately, trades and reinforcements from the disabled list will put us in a much better position as we move forward and try to find a way to get in the playoffs."
In recent years, the Yankees' July activity has been more geared toward filling small holes and making tweaks for a playoff run, rather than completely overhauling the lineup or pitching staff, though there have been surprises in store.
Last year, the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners on July 23, having him walk across to Safeco Field's visiting clubhouse as their biggest move in a month where they also made a minor July 31 deal for first baseman Casey McGehee.
They were silent at the Deadline in 2011 but made ripples a year earlier, acquiring first baseman Lance Berkman, outfielder Austin Kearns and right-hander Kerry Wood in a flurry of late-season adding that helped bolster their run to the postseason.
There are no guarantees as to what kind of Deadline this will be, but if the Soriano deal is any indication of ownership's willingness to spend, the financial constraints of a $189 million payroll objective for 2014 may not be as great an obstacle as once thought.
Cashman said that he believes players and teams are starting to be more willing to conclude negotiations, and suspects that there may be more offense on the way to the Bronx. For now, they have what he called a "bird in the hand" with Soriano, and that seems to be a good start.
"We've wanted to improve things for some time," Cashman said. "I think all Yankee fans have seen this team -- we're fighting, we've got a lot of guys who are professionals and they're competing their tail off, but on the offensive side we've been limited due to injury, so we have had an interest for quite some time to upgrade when we could."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.