Yankees: Examining The 2016 Trade Deadline Fire Sale


The Yankees were sellers at the 2016 trade deadline, a position they never thought they’d see themselves in. Looking back on it, how did the deals work out?

On July 25, 2016, the Yankees found themselves sitting with a 51-48 record and 4th in the American League East. They were only seven and a half games out of first place but decided to make some major changes over the next week.

Later that same day, the Yankees traded their closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford, and Gleyber Torres. The Trade Deadline was still a week away, but the Yankees felt as if they could not turn this trade down… and what a decision that was.

Chapman was set to become a free agent at the end of the season. So for a two-month rental, the Yankees got an absolute haul. Torres would find himself at the Major League level less than two years later, where he would go on to find himself as the next potential face of the Yankees. McKinney would not see himself in pinstripes often but was eventually included in a trade for J.A. Happ.

Who won this trade? It is a rare occurrence where both teams win, in both the short term and the long term. The Cubs were able to snap their 108-year drought without a World Series, so they won the short term battle. The Yankees were ultimately able to sign Chapman back to the team while getting a future superstar. They were able to win the long-term battle.

Six days later, the Yankees shipped reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians in exchange for a package of prospects, including Ben Heller, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and J.P. Feyereisen. Unlike Chapman, Miller still had several years remaining on his contract, so the Yankees were able to snag more top-ranked prospects.

Sheffield was the sole piece in bringing James Paxton to New York, who ended up becoming the ace of the squad towards the end of the 2019 season. Frazier has had mild success at the Major League level but has endured defensive struggles that have caused the Yankees to look at other options. Heller had a nice comeback 2019 season with the Yankees during his brief time in the bullpen, posting a 1.23 ERA in 25 appearances.

Who won this trade? There is no question the Yankees take this victory. Miller was still an impactful reliever for the Indians but struggled with injuries during the 2018 season. The Indians did not win a World Series and forfeited four prospects that could have had decent careers with the Indians. They took a risk, but it did not pay off.

The next day, on August 1, the Yankees made two trade. The first trade saw Carlos Beltran go to the Rangers and Erik Swanson, Dillon Tate, and Nick Green head to the Bronx. Beltran was in the final year of his three year deal with the Yankees and was nearing the end of his playing days.

Swanson would become a part of the Paxton trade and Tate would become part of bringing Zack Britton to New York. The Yankees emerge as winners of this trade, as they would get players who would eventually give them the ability to trade for key pitchers. Beltran and the Rangers would find themselves swept by the Blue Jays in the ALDS.

The second trade that day saw Ivan Nova sent to Pittsburgh for Stephen Tarpley and Tito Polo, both of which were players to be named later. This trade may have been won by the Pirates, as Nova went on to have a decent few seasons in Pittsburgh. Tarpley had spurts of success early on with the Yankees, but could not build upon it. Polo never cracked the Majors and is currently a free agent.

Brian Cashman made many trades during the 2016 season, and it turned out to be a major success. Many new players were brought in, and several of these players would become part of the “Baby Bombers” group.

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