Just a few years ago, the New York Yankees almost pulled off the worst trade in franchise history with the Atlanta Braves.
Any baseball fan who has ever had the inconvenience of experiencing the dreaded five month hellhole called the offseason is all too familiar with rumors of trades and signings that never end up actually happening. In just the last few years, among these rumors that never ended up materializing include the New York Yankees being “enamored” with Manny Machado and a trade for Gerrit Cole being “a matter of when rather than if”. But amidst all these rumors of free agent signings and trades that never came to be, there’s one that stands above the rest in terms of the magnitude it would have had in affecting today’s Yankees, and all Yankees fans should thank their lucky stars that no deal was ever agreed to.
The 2015 season was an underwhelming one for the Yankees, as the team went 87-75, blowing their division lead midseason to the Blue Jays and sneaking into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, only to get shut down by Dallas Keuchel and the Astros in the Wild Card Game. The team was determined to make moves the following offseason in order to win sooner rather than later, and they did so by bringing in closer Aroldis Chapman and second baseman Starlin Castro. The Yankees also dealt backup catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for outfielder Aaron Hicks. This was seen as a minor move at the time, but Hicks has since blossomed into the team’s centerfielder of the future and a prime example of a diamond in the rough that the analytics department was able to acquire for next to nothing, much like Gio Urshela, Luke Voit and Mike Tauchman.
The 2016 season ended up being a turning point for the young Yankees core that is now the heart and soul of the Bronx Bombers. The team entered a rebuilding period and sold off a bunch of veteran players at the trade deadline in exchange for a king’s ransom of prospects, only to go on a run late in the season and nearly sneak into the playoffs, led by midseason callup Gary Sanchez. Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin were also called up midseason and gave Yankees fans some hope for the future when they blasted back-to-back home runs in each of their first career at bats on August 13th.
Now, three years later, Judge and Sanchez are two prospects turned superstars who have been key components of the team’s multiple deep playoff runs and are pieces the team aims to build around for their primes over the next few seasons. But what if I told you that there was a world where these two studs, as well as the team’s current ace Luis Severino, were dealt away before the New York Yankees ever even gave them a chance to develop?
Heyward/simmons/carpenter/bj upton/c Johnson for severino/judge/banuelos/clarkin/sanchez said floated. Nyy didnt pull trigger
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 8, 2016
In the middle of Spring Training ahead of the 2016 season, a report emerged that the Yankees had discussed the possibility of dealing a number of prospects to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for major league-ready players the previous offseason. The rumored deal would have sent Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Ian Clarkin and Manny Banuelos to the Braves in exchange for Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, David Carpenter, BJ Upton and Chris Johnson. Clarkin and Banuelos haven’t panned out at the major league level, but obviously Judge, Sanchez and Severino have become the driving force behind what the Yankees hope becomes a dynasty team over the next few seasons.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that this trade would have altered the current state of the Yankees: