The New York Yankees have been surprisingly quiet this offseason. This is likely the convergence of all the imaginable factors: the age and composition of the roster, this specific moment in the midst of the Yankees' expiring contracts, the new CBA and the lowering boom of the payroll tax.
But I wonder if the biggest reason for the front office's seeming complacency is just what it seems: from 1995-2011, the Yankees made the playoffs every year but one, usually while leading the league in dollar spent; but starting in 2012, the Yankees no longer need to be the best team in baseball, nor the best team in the AL East, nor the second best- thanks to the shiny new second wildcard, the Yankees trust that they no longer need to push so hard to make the playoffs.
So, maybe just maybe, the Yankees figure they can afford to jettison some talent now in exchange for cheaper future roster options.
For my mild trade proposal, check out Pinstripe Alley.
The Yankees don't need brilliance to make the playoffs, and once you make it to the dance, all you need is luck.
So the Yankees send two arbitration eligible players to the Angels: Brett Gardner and David Robertson.
In exchange, the Yankees get an MLB ready top pitching prospect, a mid-level 3B prospect, a veteran outfielder, and cash: RHP Garrett Richards, 3B Luis Jiminez, Torii Hunter and several million dollars to offset some of Hunter's salary.
Why do the Yankees do this?
Gardner and Robertson's price tag is due to rise in the near future, and while they will still be inexpensive, they are both players whose bubbles could burst soon and brutally. While I love Gardner's patience at the plate, his slap and run approach will give no warnings of decline (see Ichiro). Robertson's strike outs are sexy, but the walks are something less beautiful. Instead, the Yankees get another starting pitcher on the brink of big league success, a corner bat worth watching, and a chance to rewrite the future of the franchise with young starting pitching. Now the Yankees top ten pitching prospects features 7 starters ready to take the ball at the big league level (Richards, Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Warren, Mitchell, Phelps).
Why do the Angels do this?
With CJ Wilson in the fold, the Angels currently boast 6 starting pitchers, so the use of Richards as a trade chip should hurt less than it normally would. Instead they send a speedy youth movement into the outfield, with Peter Bourjos, Gardner and Mike Trout chasing down everything in the park. They pitch a starting rotation 3 aces deep and hand the ball over to a 3 headed monster in Robertson-Takahashi-Downs in front of closer Jordan Walden. With Pujols hitting third, they walk to the division title and enter the playoffs the World Series favorites.
The Yankees, confident in their arms and their (aging) offense play a long term game while the Angels go all in to build a juggernaut ready to win multiple pennants in the next 3-5 years.