This 2020 season that is unlike any other has a trade deadline that could be described similarly.
And it has general managers such as the Yankees’ Brian Cashman unsure of the exact nature of the marketplace.
“We are definitely having conversations and engaging our opposing teams, and clearly pitching is an area of focus for us — improving our rotation if possible and the bullpen,” Cashman said Saturday morning.
But uncertainty doesn’t even begin to describe the obstacles to finding a match. That's plenty difficult in a normal 162-game season and its July 31 trade deadline, as opposed to this year’s deadline at 4 p.m. Monday.
A top consideration for Cashman, and any other team looking to add players, is the notion of adding to the payroll with very little revenue coming in.
“There's not going to be any fans in the stands moving forward, so that means clearly there’s no revenue to grab there, and there's a possibility, clearly, we'll be in a postseason bubble for those teams that qualified for the postseason,” Cashman said. “The playoff format is uniquely different with the added teams and the first round being a best-of-three, which creates even a higher level of risk [for trades], so as we approach this [deadline], typically you're adding somebody that has salary, so it's a much higher expense level.
''That's one challenge in a world where there's very little money to be had and then, two, the playoff format’s riskier. Three, you don't know what's lurking around the corner because the pandemic is still real and exists and it hasn't and won't be going anywhere anytime soon, unfortunately. So all of those things are pressure points, without a doubt.”
Cashman said he’s not even in position to say if the pricetags are high or not (the general consensus across the game is that they are extremely high). He said he hasn’t been close on anything.
“I have been having conversations with my baseball operations staff, as well as ownership, about the best next step,” he said. “So if I get to an area which is the ‘sweet spot,’ I would call it, of this might match up for us and them [opposing team], I'll take it to Hal [Steinbrenner] for some very difficult decisions that might be had. Because do you shoot those prospect bullets to add an impact player potentially that typically adds more salary to it [payroll]? And there's so many factors of risk/reward you have to factor into that. And those decisions obviously will be made if I get to a level of comfort with opposing teams, which obviously hasn't happened yet.”
Aroldis Chapman, who allowed a walk-off two-run homer by Amed Rosario with none out in the seventh inning in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss in Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader, said the fact that he had not pitched in 11 games might have contributed to his performance, but he didn’t use that as an alibi.
“I’m not going to say it’s why the game developed the way it did,” Chapman said Saturday morning through his interpreter. “At the same time, it’s obviously a lot of time between outings. Of course it has something to do with it, but I wouldn’t say it’s the reason [for the outcome] or use it an as excuse.”
Chapman, who missed most of Spring Training II after testing positive for COVID-19 just a few days into camp, ended up being on the mound in an odd situation — wearing the home pinstripes but watching the Mets celebrate a walk-off victory at the Yankees' ballpark. That was the result of last weekend’s games at Citi Field getting postponed and the Mets being the “home” team for Friday’s second game.
“Weird,” said Chapman, who threw a scoreless ninth and picked up the victory Saturday. “You realize it’s your home ballpark, then you realize you’re really not the home team. You take it and you keep on moving.”
As will the bullpen, Chapman said, despite the rough week it’s had.
“We’re going through a rough patch, the bullpen is, and we haven’t been able to do the job expected of us,” he said. “At the same time, there’s no reason to panic or feel stress. We have a lot of quality arms in the bullpen, a lot of talent. Eventually we’re going to put this behind us and get the job done.”
The unit should get a boost in the coming days, Aaron Boone said. Zack Britton, put on the injured list Aug. 20 with a left hamstring strain, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday and could be activated soon after that.