In 2010, the New York Yankees were an MLB powerhouse, coming off a World Series championship, featuring a roster filled with future Hall of Famers, perennial All-Stars, and household names.
Until 2012, the Yankees remained a playoff contender, spearheaded by veterans such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. However, age eventually caught up to the Yankees as they missed the playoffs in 2013, 2014, and seem headed for a similar outcome this year.
The team became trade deadline sellers for the first time since 1989 this year, trading away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova — all but throwing in the white flag for 2016. Jeter (2014), and Pettite and Rivera (2013) are retired. Mark Teixeira announced his retirement at the end of 2016. A-Rod will join the ex-Yankees club this Friday as he plays his final game before assuming a role as a special advisor.
Alex Rodriguez currently has 696 career HRs, 4th most on baseball’s all-time list. pic.twitter.com/YoyduIxinT
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) August 7, 2016
If former ECW promoter and current WWE personality Paul Heyman had his way, the Yankees core would have been shaken up six years ago.
During an August 2010 appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Heyman — who was out of the wrestling industry at the time — was rumored to be in talks with Total Nonstop Action (TNA). However, those talks fizzled out and Heyman stayed away from professional wrestling for two more years before returning to WWE in 2012.
At the time, TNA was flooded with veterans such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Sting, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. It took away the focus from a fan-desired youth movement. Performers such as Beer Money (Bobby Roode and James Storm), Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley), AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe were viewed as TNA’s present and future.
To describe the way he’d run TNA, Heyman explained how he would rebuild an aging Yankees roster.
“If Hank Steinbrenner called me today and said ‘we’re gonna remove [general manager] Brian Cashman and we’re gonna put you in that seat, what’s your first move?’ My first move, I let A-Rod go, I let Derek Jeter go,” Heyman explained.
The former Paul E. Dangerously justified his thinking with the fact that Rodriguez, 35 at the time, already hit 600 HR in his career. Jeter, who reached 3,000 hits a year later, already was the Yankees all-time hits leader.
“These guys are in their 30s, they’re at the tail end of their prime,” Heyman, who is known for his on-screen persona as Brock Lesnar’s advocate, said. “I want a guy that’s coming into his prime, into his peak, so I can mold him, I can shape him, I can take him, and I can make him the guy that hits me 600 home runs. Or, gets pi**ed off that he’s only hit 600 home runs and he’s sitting there saying ‘I wanna pass [Babe] Ruth, I wanna pass [Hank] Aaron, I wanna pass [Mark] McGwire, I wanna pass everybody else.”
Long-term thinking and planning ahead would’ve been the Yankees’ motto under a Heyman-regime. While Heyman is better known for his creative writing in the scripted world of professional wrestling, he suggested a real-life plan eerily similar to the Yankees’ undertaking this season.
“Gimme that kid out college, give me that draft choice, give me that kid on the [Colorado] Rockies, let me steal that guy from the [New York] Mets,” Heyman said.
The Rockies and Mets were hypothetical mentions, but the Yankees traded for several top prospects out of the Indians, Cubs, and Rangers systems. The Yankees acquired three top-100 prospects: OF Clint Frazier (21st), SS Gleyber Torres (27th), and P Justus Sheffield (69th), per Baseball America’s midseason rankings.
.@Yankees No. 1 prospect @clintfrazier determined to fulfill his MLB superstar aspirations: https://t.co/9cXyPFEurS pic.twitter.com/vy9HfXXPGJ
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 4, 2016
In addition to the acquisitions, the Yankees already had four top-100 prospects in their system: SS Jorge Mateo (19th), C Gary Sanchez (36th), OF Aaron Judge (42nd), and P James Kaprelian (99th).
Several other pieces were previously ranked top-100 prospects. Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, was part of the Yankees’ return for Carlos Beltran. Tate, 22, is having a down year in the minors (3-3, 5.12 ERA), but was ranked by Baseball America as the 69th overall prospect. Ben Heller, 25, was another piece in the Miller deal and ranked the Indians’ 30th prospect by MLB.com. Finally, outfielder Brian McKinney, acquired for Chapman, was ranked the 83rd best prospect by Baseball America in 2014 before he was dealt to Chicago.
“I want a bunch of 21-year-olds because then in five years, I got a team of guys under 30 and we’re kicking everybody’s a** and I still have 400 more home runs to hit in their career,” Heyman said.
[Photo via WWE]