The Bronx Bombers have made the playoffs in seven of the past eight years but have reached the World Series only once, when they beat the Phillies in 2009. For most teams, one championship in eight years would be perfectly adequate, but not for the Yankees. This is a franchise that appeared in the Fall Classic six times in nine years prior to their latest "drought."
Now, with a 48-32 record that qualifies as second-best in baseball (behind the Rangers) and gives them a comfortable six-game lead in the AL East, you can bet they'll do whatever it takes to position themselves for another strong postseason run.
Why They Will Trade With the Twins
Championship aspirations? Check. Room to add payroll? Check. Pressure from fan base to make a move? Check.
The Yankees have all the characteristics of an aggressive deadline buyer, which means they're exactly the type of club that the Twins should be focusing on should they choose to sell. Moreover, they've suffered some tough losses in the rotation; Michael Pineda was lost for the season in spring training, and more recently Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia went down with injuries that will keep them out for a while (Pettitte likely won't be back until September). In addition, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances – two top prospects that were being counted on to step in at some point this season – have been set back by injuries and ineffectiveness.
These events leave the Yanks on shaky ground in the rotation, so it's easy to envision them taking an interest in Francisco Liriano, who they've been linked to in past rumors.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
There's a very narrow fit here. The Twins don't really have any impact starters to trade outside of Liriano, and New York is in no great need of help in the lineup or bullpen.
So the question is, how much are they willing to give up for two months of the mercurial Liriano? Even if they're desperate for starting pitching, it's tough to see them moving a high-end prospect for a rental, especially considering that superior impending free agents such as Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels could be made available.
There's definitely a potential match here, and if Brian Cashman is unwilling to meet the asking prices of Milwaukee or Philadelphia, one could easily imagine him calling up Terry Ryan to inquire about Liriano.
At that point, it becomes a matter of settling on a prospect (or prospects) that the Twins like and that the Yankees are willing to move in return for a wild card.
Possible Trade Targets
Dellin Betances - RHP
Top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos is probably unavailable, but it's possible that Betances – another of the vaunted "Killer B's" – could be plucked. The sky-scraping right-hander was ranked by Baseball America as New York's third-best prospect during the offseason, but he's had a brutal campaign. He was recently demoted from Triple-A to Double-A after posting a 6.39 ERA and 71/69 K/BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings for Scranton. If the Twins feel they could straighten the 24-year-old out, this might be the right time to make a bid for him. But that's a risk, and it's unclear Cashman would be willing to sell low.
Gary Sanchez - C
Catching prospects are intriguing, because the Twins will be gradually transitioning Joe Mauer away from the position in the coming years and they certainly don't have any amazing backstops on the farm. Sanchez would seemingly be a good fit – he's 19 and hitting very well in Single-A, which means that if all goes well he'd be reaching the majors around the time Mauer is looking at a full-time switch to first base or DH.
David Phelps - RHP
Despite posting excellent numbers throughout the minors, the former 14th-round pick has never been viewed as a spectacular prospect. He's pitched as a starter and a reliever for the Yankees this year, posting very respectable numbers (37 IP, 3.16 ERA, 34/14 K/BB). A 25-year-old rookie who's missing bats in the majors and has several years of inexpensive team control ahead of him? Sounds like exactly the guy the Twins are looking for. In fact, he should be the first player Ryan asks about.