For how much love the Yankees have for Greg Bird, his constant appearance on the DL has to completely frustrate them. Brandon Belt is likely the most available first baseman. While the A’s are shopping Yonder Alonso, Belt’s lefty pull, and gold glove defense might be extremely welcome in New York.
His contract isn’t awful, and he’ll definitely hit more homers in New York. He doesn’t scream “Yankees first baseman.” But the Yankees approach in recent years has been vastly different from their old approach. Given their love affair with Bird, the Yankees were unlikely to sign one of the big time 1B free agents this winter, but Belt could do the job without giving up a significant prospect to get him. The A’s are prospect hunting, and it could get really pricey for any of their commodities.
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The big thing on these pitching prospects is that they’re really good, and would be near the top of the Giants prospect board, but the Yankees have two pitchers ranked ahead of Chance Adams, and seven of them in front of Zack Littell. Littell is a few years off, but not that far off from MLB ready, and he’s successfully navigated the jump from A Adv to Double-A.
Adams has jumped from AA to AAA and in a little over 100 innings across all levels, opponents are hitting just .174. Control issues aren’t significant as he still has a WHIP of 1.02 across both levels as well. He’s sitting just at 99 strikeouts and could start to be considered MLB come next season. The Giants “should” have room for him if they deal Samardzija and either deal Cueto or he opts out.
The other addition to this is an extremely unhearalded bullpen arm that the Giants could use to supplant Hunter Strickland if he gets traded. Ben Heller was a 22nd round draft pick by the Indians in 2013. Specifically a bullpen arm, Heller found his niche and has successfully navigated the minor leagues, but is blocked by the heavy hitting bullpen the Yankees possess. Heller went to the same college as Ben Zobrist (albeit different times). Heller could immediately come up to the big leagues and get some extended time to feel it out as games don’t count for the Giants as much as they do the Yankees these days.
The big thing about trading Belt, is that he has clearly stalled out this season, and it should be a concern for the Giants. Hypothetically, if the Giants made all of these trades (they won’t, and I know that), the Giants would’ve potentially removed Cueto, Samardzija, and Belt from their payroll, a total of roughly $56-57 million. That’s in addition to adding some solid big league ready prospects, giving a nice bed of players for the Giants to add a few big time spending pieces around.
With first base, and starting pitching being the premier commodity in this years’ free agent market, the Giants could free up a ton of room to get a big name or two. Logan Morrison and Eric Hosmer headline the first base class, and names like Jake Arrietta and Yu Darvish headlining the starting pitching class. The Giants could be poised to make a few splashes if they could indeed free up that much cap room.