New York Yankees have a lack of direction after uneventful trade deadline

The MLB Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the New York Yankees enter August in last place in the AL East, and 3.5 games back of a Wild Card spot.

Despite that, the Yankees made two moves before the deadline: acquiring Spencer Howard from Texas and Keynan Middleton from the White Sox. Despite their desperate need for a left fielder, this is the only thing long-time general manager Brian Cashman decided was necessary.

It is bizarre to look at the Yankees right now. They are a team that is floundering offensively. In terms of team averages, they rank 29th in batting average, 27th in OBP, and 23rd in OPS. Aaron Judge still leads the team in every offensive category despite missing over a month of the season. It’s gotten bad in New York. Not 1982-1993 bad, but the past 10 years have been frustrating.

Fans are turning on GM Brian Cashman at an alarming rate, noting most of his failures to improve the team since the 2009 World Series.

The worst message the New York Yankees could have sent to their fanbase was doing nothing.

Every fan knew what was wrong with the team, which essentially boiled down to two options at the deadline; option one: trade your expiring contracts/players with trade value and recoup younger prospects, i.e. Gleyber Torres, Harrison Bader, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, etc. Rely on your farm system, and move forward with a young team. Option two: trade highly sought after prospects in exchange for proven talent that will undoubtably help you win now, ie: Jasson Dominguez, Oswald Peraza, Spencer Jones, Austin Wells, Everson Pereira.

Allegedly, Cashman’s price was too high for his prospects, and opposing executives have had enough. If you look at the other New York team, the Mets, owner Steve Cohen has seemingly accepted his all-in, big money strategy (that was coined by George Steinbrenner) did not work. He traded Max Scherzer to the Rangers, Justin Verlander to the Astros and Mark Canha to the Brewers, amongst others. He’s ready to retool and rethink his strategy.

Cashman, and by extension Hal Steinbrenner, seem to be content with going down with the ship. The Yankees have had essentially the same lineup for the past five seasons, with the same plan: hit home runs, get on base, get good pitching. Except now, those guys who were dependent upon to hit home runs and get on base, are doing neither (Stanton, Donaldson, LeMahieu).

So the question remains: what is the New York Yankees identity? If you’re old enough to recall, the success of the 90s dynasty stemmed from homegrown talent (Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Bernie Williams, Pettitte) complemented by free agents signings and trades (Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens, David Cone, David Wells, Scott Brosius, etc). It wasn’t until the trade of Alex Rodriguez did the “go out and sign everyone” mentality take hold. That strategy yielded one championship. In fact, if you were born post-2003, you have only ever seen the Yankees take part in one World Series in 20 years. For many baseball fans, the dynasty of the Yankees is a myth at this point.

Brian Cashman is caught in a Catch 22. He won’t trade (or his asking price is too high) his best prospects for good players to compete now, but he also seems incredibly hesitant to promote from within out of fear that the Yankees will … lose? The fans will take the losses if it means there is a plan and sense of direction. It beats losing to the Astros in the playoffs every year (a team that has excellent player development).

Cashman signed a crisp four year contract through 2026 at the end of last season, but if fan reaction is any indication, this offseason he could be fighting for his job.