The New York Yankees, who are certainly no strangers to trade-deadline blockbusters, were surprisingly quiet on Thursday, making only a handful of moves – none of which figures to have a major impact on a team struggling to stay above .500.
The Yankees did business with their biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox, acquiring Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson. Drew, a career .261 hitter, hit .176 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 39 games for Boston this season.
“I really think (Yankees general manager) Brian Cashman sees this as a chance (to help them make the playoffs),” New York Daily News MLB columnist John Harper said on Ferrall on the Bench. “He thinks this team can really still do something in this division, even though they’re really a mediocre team. They’ll play Stephen Drew at second base right now, and if he plays well, then maybe they’ll take a look and say, ‘Hey, maybe we’ll re-sign him as our shortstop when Derek Jeter leaves.’
“But right now, Cashman is trying to patch this thing together with every little move he can make,” Harper continued. “He’s made a bunch of them here in July. I don’t see the Yankees being a true contender, but he’s still in go-for-it mode because this team never backs off – ever, it seems like.”
The Yankees also acquired 30-year-old Martin Prado, sending prospect Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks. Prado, who is hitting .270 this season, should provide some offensive punch and defensive versatility.
“That’s not a bad deal,” Harper said. “I really thought Marlon Byrd was the best guy for them. (He) could give them some power, a right-handed bat – which they really need. But Prado’s a decent player. He’s versatile. He’s going to play right field right now, mostly – because they can’t live with Ichiro out there every day. They just have very little power in the outfield. Prado is at least a right-handed bat that’s going to give them some production. It’s not a huge upgrade, but this team hasn’t hit at all. They need to just try and do something to lengthen the lineup and get more productive at-bats. If they’re going to do anything, this offense has to come alive for them at some point.”
The Yankees (55-52) are five games back of the Orioles in the AL East and 3.5 games back of the Angels and Blue Jays for a Wild Card spot. Luckily, New York has nine games remaining with the Red Sox, who traded Jon Lester and John Lackey to the Athletics and Cardinals, respectively. The first three of those games take place this weekend at Fenway Park, with the Yankees slated to face Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Clay Buchholz.
“With their offense, every little advantage helps them,” Harper said of the Yankees. “They will have to figure out how to get (Yoenis) Cespedes and Allen Craig out, I guess, but you’re right. I think the Red Sox will be much easier for the Yankees to deal with without Lester in particular. He’s always tough on them.”