MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Yankees' trade plans becoming less clear

Yankees' trade plans becoming less clear

Those hoping for the spectacle of a fire sale by the New York Yankees will have to take a deep breath and, at the very least, wait a while.

Wednesday night, the Yankees turned in their third straight victory over the Orioles by the score of 5-0. What had been an 8 1/2-game deficit in the American League East became merely a six-game deficit.

The Yanks are five games out in the AL Wild Card race. Boston took over first place in the AL East, as the loss dropped Baltimore out of first place for the first time since June 4.

Life would have been simpler if the games had gone the other way and the O's lead over the Yankees had grown to 11 1/2 games. Then the Yanks are clearly sellers.

Now, though, with the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trading Deadline approaching, the Yankees may be considered in contention, or at worst in a gray area, where their status is still too close to call.

This puts off the possibility of the Yankees being sellers at the Deadline. That's a concept many of us find foreign or at least off the beaten path. Part of the drama of the buildup to the Deadline was going to be whether the Yanks themselves could successfully grasp this sellers thing as a viable option.

The Yankees haven't had much occasion to be sellers. For many seasons, they defined the concept of being buyers. Not just at the Deadline, but whenever possible, for as much as possible.

But that is what 23 straight winning seasons can get for you. The Yanks have not, in this new millennium, repeated the kind of success that they had over much of the second half of the 20th century. But they have been consistent factors in the race for the postseason.

That is why the idea of the Yankees peddling established talent at the Trade Deadline had some serious novelty value. Now, that notion is being put off, postponed. Maybe the current Yanks are capable of canceling it entirely.

This will disappoint some Yankee-haters, but it will also be a letdown for those clubs interested in collecting some of the talent that Yankees might put on the open market.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran, having an All-Star season in the final year of his contract, would be a valuable addition for a contending club looking to add depth to its lineup.

Closer Aroldis Chapman, also in his final year of his contract, remains an overpowering pitcher. This week, he had a pitch register at 105.1 mph according to Statcast™. Chapman had done that once before at the Major League level, but that was in 2010. He doesn't seem to be fading, does he?

And the two other power arms in the Yankees' imposing bullpen also would have wide interest. Lefty Andrew Miller would be an obvious target for teams trying to bolster the back end of their bullpen. Dellin Betances has had less speculation around his potential trade status, but he would be a major upgrade for a contender's bullpen as well.

But this week, the Yanks have refused to cooperate with the notion of packing in their season and playing for the future. One more game with the Orioles and then three in a tough Interleague assignment against the Giants may put their short-term future in clearer focus.

Part of the problem is that the Yankees have spent much of the season banging their heads against .500. With the Wednesday night victory, they moved to two games above .500. The last time that they reached that lofty level was April 12.

That is just not Yankee-like. But then again, neither is being a seller at the Trade Deadline. The Yanks have succeeded in keeping their heads above water in the postseason race, even if that success has made their Trade Deadline posture less than a crystal-clear proposition.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.