Top Five Trade Chips
;

Top Five Trade Chips

The Yankees haven't just been promoting prospects from within to help the big club, they've used them as trade chips to get more established players. Austin Jackson [and others] to Detroit for Curtis Granderson near the 2009 Winter Meetings comes to mind, as does the Jesus Montero trade last year. Here's a list of the top five trades chips down on the farm heading into the Winter Meetings.

These aren't necessarily the players who just bring back the highest return. They are, however, the ones who should bring back the best value while not hurting the organization's depth or long-term positional plans too much.

1. 2B, Corban Joseph: Unless the Yankees are willing to trade Robinson Cano in the near future, Joseph is the number one luxury for New York to trade since he has a perennial All Star blocking his current big league path. He hit a combined .276 with a career-high 15 home runs between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year, and walked nearly as many times as he struck out.

And not only is his bat big league ready right now, a major plus most teams in the market for a second baseman will be looking for, but with the likes of Anderson Feliz, Angelo Gumbs, and Rob Refsnyder coming up behind him, his departure from the organization would not really hurt the farm system depth at the position.

2. 2B, David Adams: The same set of circumstances and reasons apply here as well; if Cano isn't going to be dealt then the Yankees have yet another second baseman nearly big league ready who could be moved and the Yankees have other second base depth they can rely on long-term. His ranking behind Joseph, however, doesn't necessarily mean Joseph is better but more because Adams, who has played third base more recently, does give the Yankees another positional option and therefore makes Joseph a bit more expendable.

He hit .306 for the Trenton Thunder this past season with a career-high eight home runs before hitting .286 with three more home runs in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, proving that he finally has the power back in his swing after dealing with a bad ankle injury for the better part of two seasons. He too has great plate discipline and he is one of the best at making the double-play pivots, and those are two areas that could entice baseball general managers in trade discussions.

3. RHP, Brett Marshall: Coming off of a 13-7, 3.52 ERA season with Double-A Trenton this year, Marshall has the look of a quality innings eater type of starting pitcher and those have real value in the trade market. He has the quality sinking fastball-changeup combination with command that teams covet as well, and he's 22-14 over the past two years.

His slider made real progress at season's end too so if the right scouts saw him during that time Marshall's trade value has never been higher. He isn't an ideal relief pitching option, however, and depending on their thoughts for potential in-house starting candidates over the next two seasons they might be willing to deal him now if he isn't in their long-term plans. Trading him would hurt the upper-level pitching depth, especially with Manny Banuelos undergoing Tommy John surgery, but the Yankees have Nik Turley, Jose Ramirez, and others coming up right behind Marshall.

4. RHP, Adam Warren: Just as is the case with Marshall, Warren has put up solid numbers at the higher minor league levels and he's is even more big league ready right now. And just like Marshall, Warren's lack of a plus breaking pitch does make him a much better starting option than potential reliever and that could cause the Yankees to think about dealing him now since they have a wave of starting pitchers going up to Double-A next season.

He posted a solid 3.71 ERA for Triple-A Scranton last year and tossed over 150 innings for the second consecutive season. A durable and reliable starting pitcher who can bring length to a starting rotation has real value and he could bring back a quality player in return as part of the right package without hurting their long-term depth. The question is whether or not the Yankees want to risk the damage to their short-term, upper-level depth by moving him now.

5. OF, Slade Heathcott: Here's the riskiest one of the bunch, not only because he might not have the highest trade value for teams given his injury history but because dealing him could really come back to bite the Yankees in a big way if he reaches his ceiling. However, trading him in the right deal could make sense on a couple of fronts.

Just like at second base, the Yankees have accumulated a lot of outfield depth down on the farm and collectively they're starting to creep up to the higher minor league levels. In fact, the Yankees have four quality outfield prospects who could and really should see some Double-A time in 2013; Heathcott, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores. The likelihood that all four, currently all on pace to reach the big league level at relatively the same time, means somebody is going to have to be dealt.

Heathcott and his crazy tools and immense upside gives the Yankees the ultra-tantalizing talent to dangle in front of general managers, more so than somebody like Flores. He also plays the same defensive position as Williams and Austin is the lone right-handed batter of the group, meaning dealing a left-handed bat like Heathcott makes more sense from a depth standpoint.

Heathcott could bring back the most in a trade and not really hurt the overall depth of outfield prospects in the organization, but at the same time he also represents the highest risk if the Yankees decided to part with him because of his incredible talent -- it's not an easy decision either way but it would be foolish to not consider it an option.

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

Become an annual subscriber today!