Terms for possible Yanks reliever auction

Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman have combined for 22 saves this season for the Yankees. USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees' drift downward continues, with a third straight loss Tuesday night, and they are now nine games out of first place in the American League East. New York hasn't finished below .500 in 24 years, but that appears to be a distinct possibility in 2016, with the Yankees currently two games below .500 -- and perhaps overachieving, according to Baseball Reference's Pythagorean win-loss, which indicates they should be well below .500. The offense is sporadic, the starting pitching has been a muddle, and with 33 days before the trade deadline, the Yankees appear to be in the process of defining themselves as sellers.

Some rival executives fully expect the Yankees to trade both Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman before the Aug. 1 deadline, and that the Yankees will run a two-tiered auction. Because Miller is under contract for two more seasons, there is nothing actually compelling the Yankees to move him -- other than to take advantage of his very high trade value in the market right now. Officials with other teams expect that the Yankees will set a high price on Miller, asking for specific prospects from other teams and telling them they can either meet the demands or they won’t get the player.

One evaluator with knowledge of the Yankees' interest fully expects that the team will tell the Cubs that if they want Miller, they will have to part with young hitter Kyle Schwarber -- and if the Cubs say no, the Yankees can simply move on to conversations with other contenders who are interested in the left-hander. The Yankees are in position to run an extreme seller's market with Miller, a difference-making reliever: Since the start of 2014, Miller has struck out 276 of the 639 batters he has faced in the regular season and playoffs, allowing just 85 hits and 41 walks in 166 innings.