Yankees Gain Flexibility in Landing Prado, Drew

For much of today, it seemed like the Red Sox were going to be the only active American League East team, but then the Orioles and Yankees got in on the act (you can read all of our trade deadline analysis here). For the Yankees part, they acquired Stephen Drew and Martin Prado. Both could be important to the team, but Prado’s acquisition may affect the 2015 Yankees as well, which makes it a little more interesting.

Of course, the most interesting part of this deal is which Martin Prado are the Yankees getting? There’s a big difference between the .345 wOBA version of Prado and the current .305 wOBA incarnation. Either way, they are unlikely to miss prospect Peter O’Brien, who despite hitting some impressive home runs, was unlikely to find much time behind the plate for the Yankees — if he can even remain behind the plate. O’Brien has played some first base and right field this year, and it’s unclear exactly where he will fit with the Dbacks, if and when he reaches the majors.

Getting back to Prado, both ZiPS and Steamer think that he’ll do better, and it’s possible that Prado’s performance was dragged down by the sinkhole that has been the Diamondbacks’ season. Assuming just for a moment that the change of scenery reinvigorates Prado, he should be able to help in a number of ways. For starters, he is going to right field, which will mercifully push Ichiro Suzuki and his sub-replacement-ness back to the bench. But Prado is probably going to play all over. He’s going to help out in left field on occasion, and at third base as well. Maybe even a little at first base.

The key question, however, is how much time he sees at second base. Carlos Beltran may be ready to resume some work in right field soon, and when he is, there will be an opportunity created to move Derek Jeter to designated hitter — Beltran in right, Prado at second, Drew at short, and the Captain at DH. At this stage, Jeter is never going to play another defensive position, but he has started at DH four times this year, and adding Prado and Drew will give them the flexibility to rest Jeter’s legs more frequently down the stretch without sacrificing offense the way they would have been by starting Brendan Ryan at short.

Finally, there is the consideration beyond this year. When the team traded for Chase Headley, general manager Brian Cashman hedged on whether or not he would be in their 2015 plans, but between Prado being under contract and Alex Rodriguez returning, it would seem that the Yankees now have little to no motivation to retain Headley.

Neither Prado nor Drew is going to make the Yankees a title contender, but they are better than the players they replaced, they help push Ichiro to the bench, and might be able to buy Jeter some easier nights. That’s not a bad bit of work considering all they sacrificed was one fringe prospect, and it should keep the Yankees viable in the AL East for the rest of the way.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com. He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

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