Why the Yankees need to reload, starting with trading their best player, Carlos Beltran

He might be their best player, but the Yankees need to get some value for Carlos Beltran while they can. Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees should deal their best player, Carlos Beltran. And the sooner they do it, the better.

Sure, they would be losing a lot. Beltran has been the Yankees' most productive hitter this season, leading the team in batting average (.283), homers (18) and RBIs (48). He is as professional as they come, as he advises his teammates. He is honest with the media. He should be a no-doubt Hall of Famer one day.

But he shouldn't be a Yankee by the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

One of the most important parts of general manager Brian Cashman's job is asset management. Beltran's value is as high as its going to be. With age and his injury history, his worth has a better chance of decreasing than increasing over the next five weeks.

Cashman could hold onto the 39-year-old this year in hopes the Yankees somehow can overcome the American League East teams ahead of them or chase a wild-card spot. Those clubs have better rosters, though, and Yankees sit a game below .500.

The easy thing to do would be to hold on to Beltran and give him the qualifying offer in the offseason.

This scenario takes into account the chance he could actually accept the offer, leaving the Yankees with two 40-year-old designated hitters, as Alex Rodriguez's contract finally ends after 2017. (Beltran currently mostly plays right field, but he should be a full-time DH.)

What Cashman should consider most is extending Beltran's worth to the Yankees beyond the next four months.

Given the Yankees' draft record over the past decade or so, it is probably wiser to try to deal for a better known minor league quantity than to grab another pick. There are no guarantees in such an approach, but it seems like a better one.

Take what the Detroit Tigers did last season, when the club moved Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets.

On July 31, the Tigers were 50-53 and just 3½ games off the wild-card spot. They could have gone for it and tried to sneak into the one-game shootout. Instead, they unloaded Cespedes to the Mets for two players. One of those players is rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer, who has pitched at a historic level this season.

While it might be difficult for Cashman to identify the next Fulmer, the Yankees should sell this year so they can be well-positioned to be competitive again sooner than later.

Dealing Aroldis Chapman, a free agent at the end of the season who has only been OK as the team's closer, seems like a no-brainer. As with Beltran, the Yankees could extend Chapman a qualifying offer, which could lead to a first-round draft pick.

The idea of trading lefty reliever Andrew Miller makes some sense, because the Yankees have Dellin Betances as a closer-in-waiting. Miller, like Beltran, a pro's pro on and off the field, has a reasonable deal and is probably the best of the Yankees' top three bullpen arms, garnering the best potential return.

As far as other options go, Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia (if he were willing to wave his no-trade clause and the Yankees picked up a good portion of his $25 million for next year) and Brian McCann (the Yankees also would have to likely eat some money and get him to wave his no-trade clause) could be on the block. The point is the Yankes have to think beyond this season.

The Yankees' farm system might have some potential, but there are question marks. Starter Luis Severino's major league career is currently on hold at Triple-A. Outfielder Aaron Judge has not yet mastered the minors and may not be ready to be a major league starter by 2017, as hoped. First baseman Greg Bird is out for the season with shoulder surgery.

The Yankees would be wise to use this season to reload, get younger and build around a new core. That means trading Beltran and others. If they don't do it, they will likely look back in a few years with regret.