Originally written on Baseball News Source  |  Last updated 11/18/14
For the first time in years the New York Yankees are at a crossroads within both the 2013 season and the franchise. Presently, at 41-34, New York is just 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL East lead. If the season ended today, the Yankees would be half a game out of a playoff spot.They are very much in contention.Of course, they also play  in the wide open American League and the even wider open American League East. First place may be 2.5 games out of reach, but last place is the same distance. Only six teams have won 40 or more games in the league, but nine out of 16 have won at least 38 games. Being a contender is just as likely as having to leap frog four teams just to grab a wildcard two weeks from now.So the Yankees first will need to see where the cards lie roughly one month from now, which will bring them to the week before the trade deadline. Then they will need to address the deadline appropriately and decide whether they ride out the ship (the most likely outcome), become big buyers (doubtful with payroll restrictions and a lack of trade pieces) or sellers (unlikely because New York doesn’t  raise the white flag, especially when statistics don’t 100%  demand it. So what could happen? Here are five possibilities:1. The Yankees trade Phil Hughes for a rental bat:Phil Hughes  represents the most realistic trade option for New York. The Yankees’ biggest need is offense and strength is pitching. Hughes is part of a surplus, unlike Curtis Granderson, and he may have actual trade value on an NL contender unlike Joba Chamberlain, who is a struggling reliever.Hughes has had his own issues this season and at 27-years-old, the writing is on the wall for him in New York. The right-handed pitcher will inevitably cash in at season’s end and the Yankees would be wise to cash out before then, but only if they can get a higher value than a first round supplementary pick.If the Yankees are still in it, Phil Hughes and some prospects can be had as a rental in the NL where home runs won’t haunt him like they do in the Bronx in the AL East and where he can realistically pitch like a three starter. If the Giants don’t get their pitching figured out, the Padres are serious about looking at starting pitching or the Rockies or Phillies go on a mini run, look for potential deals. Hughes could net a Michael Young-like return which could help the Yankees, especially if Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter don’t return as expected.Potential: The most likely of any big deals.2. Curtis Granderson and Joba Chamberlain are packaged in a deal for a more consistent bat.A lot of things have to work in New York’s favor for this to happen. In a perfect world, Brett Gardner and Ichiro keep hitting as they have recently, Vernon Wells rediscovers himself and Zoilo Almonte sticks. That opens the possibility of trading an all-or-nothing bat like Curtis Granderson, who, like Hughes, is in a walk year, but unlike Hughes, would have a big market for trades if he is healthy in a month.With injuries, it’s unlikely Granderson is moved, even on the waiver wire and it’s also unlikely the Yankees would try to find a bat by ditching one of their own, so Granderson and Joba would have to be shipped off to a team in need of an impact bat willing to offer a cost-controlled hitter, almost like a reverse Granderson trade when the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, among other things, to acquire him in the first place. That’s the only way the deal makes sense for the Yankees.Not many teams have surfaced in need of an outfielder and as determined, Chamberlain carries very little trade value on his own, but if one comes back healthy, one becomes more effective and everything falls into place perfectly, the Yankees would be wise to explore Granderson’s suitors since he’s unlikely to return to the Bronx next year.Potential: Highly Unlikely.3. New York uses upwards of 45 players to see if they can save face and muster a playoff spot.The Yankees have used 41 players so far this season, four less than all of last year. With Ivan Nova‘s successful start on Sunday, he is likely to be rewarded with a demotion and a new player is likely to be called up to help balance a roster currently holding 13 pitchers. Ronnie Mustelier, Brett Marshall, Dellin Betances, Tyler Austin, Michael Pineda, Dan Johnson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez all could realistically see time in the majors between now and September 30th.Wouldn’t it be the logical Yankees’ thing to do to just keep calling players up until a 25 man roster performs well enough to potentially clinch a playoff spot? Wouldn’t the Yankees’ Front Office try to spin a playoff appearance like it was a success during a year where they really should be trying to rebuild? Yup, this is the most realistic option. Brian Cashman will probably do very little at the deadline outside of potentially finding himself a backup infielder and the Yankees will hope and pray an elite pitching staff can help them save face.Potential: Most Likely.4. Yankees trade big prospects for big-time bat.Can the Yankees be in play for a blockbuster this year? Wouldn’t Giancarlo Stanton along with the returns of Jeter, Granderson and A-Rod have people thinking different expectations of this team right here in 2013? Either New York bombs out in July or those types of rumors continue right up until midnight of August 1st. And why not? The Yankees will always have the aura of being able to make something out of nothing between payroll advantages and Brian Cashman’s stealth-like transaction history.Still, outside of Betances performing well as a reliever, Austin hitting respectably in AA and a few under-the-radar players playing well in the minors, the Yankees don’t appear to have the pieces to make a long-term deal at the deadline. This is a year the front office more or less demanded minor leaguers step up and, for better or worse that’s the most realistic strategy this season.Potential: Highly Doubtful.5. Yankees pull a “Boston” and have a firesale.New York plays: Texas, Baltimore Boston and Tampa 19 times between now and the trade deadline. Say they go, 2-17 and go 7-6 against the sub .500 teams. That would make them 9-23, leaving them seven games below .500. Mark Teixeira has season ending surgery, A-Rod gets suspended, Jeter and Granderson never return.Francisco Cervelli has a setback and Eduardo Nunez never makes it through rehab along with Pineda, who doesn’t quite find his secondary stuff. In this scenario, Pettitte gets hit with a liner, Sabathia needs Tommy John and Mariano Rivera gives back to the rest of Major League Baseball by pitching his age. If that happens, the Yankees have to declare they are out of it, right?And if that’s the case, do they try to deal everything not nailed down?Do they talk Hiroki Kuroda into a trade?Do they move Nova, Hughes, Mustelier (after a supposed call-up), Granderson, Ichiro, Wells and Chamberlain?Do they try to sneak a Teixeira contract or an under the table move with Cano in one of those deals?Fire Girardi in a walk year?It’s more unlikely any other team goes for this than the Yankees would refuse it, but suffice it to say, while this is technically possibly, it’s unrealistic. A small segment of Yankees’ fans would love to see this team get blown up. They would love to sacrifice some one-year guys if it meant mixing in one of the bad contracts in the name of 2015. Suffice it to say the Yankees’ Front Office is unlikely to feel the same way, even if, to a lesser extent, being willing to move some pieces at the deadline can help in the near-future.Potential: About the same as an Astros’ postseason run.  
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