As my colleague Robert Coles likes to say, “Yankees fans, are we happy today?”. I would hope so. It has been a busy day in Yankee land, so let me word vomit some thoughts with less than one day left until the trade deadline.
1.) The day started with the Yankees landing right hander Scott Effross from the Cubs for #7 prospect Hayden Wesneski. For a bullpen that has lost Chad Green and Michael King it was a slam dunk fact the Yankees would look to add a reliever or two. The David Robertson rumors didn’t add up to me. To me it always felt like that was going to be a reliever we had heard very little about. That is what happened here.
I admittedly knew little to nothing about Effross prior to the trade but from the research I have done I like the move. Already 28 years old, Scott was a bit of a late bloomer not making his major league debut until last season. Because of that the Yankees are buying five years of control here. Effross won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2027. About 75% of Effross’ pitches are either his slider (40%) or sinker (36%). He limits hard contact by avoiding the barrel of the bat at an elite rate, ranking in the 95th percentile in barrel % and 81st percentile in average exit velocity. Effross will be a bit of a unicorn in the Yankees ‘pen. He averages just 91.4 mph on his fastball and throws from a weird angle:
The side arm action will be a change of pace from the rest of the guys in the stable. Different looks is a good thing. The Yankees tried to get a guy like this with Darren O’Day a few years ago but that move didn’t quite work out. They’re betting Effross will be different.
The price wasn’t cheap. Hayden Wesneski is borderline major league ready and at the moment looks like a no doubt starting pitcher. This isn’t a spare part things, Hayden is a legit prospect. That being said he was unlikely to carve a spot in the rotation this year or next and the time to win is now. I mentioned him as likely to be available in my Rule 5 recap last week and it turns out that was correct. The Yankees like what they see in Effross and Wesneski is the type of arm they seem to churn out on a consistent basis year in and year out. Losing Wesneski sucks but I am down with this move. Looking forward to seeing if Matt Blake can unlock another gear here.
2.) Things really got spicy a couple hours later. Jack Curry dropped his second bomb of the day, announcing the Yankees had acquired right handers Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Athletics for pitchers Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina and JP Sears, and infielder Cooper Bowman. After missing out on Luis Castillo it was rumored Montas had become the Yankees top target and they went and got him.
If you would have told me the Cashman could land Montas without giving up Oswald Peraza I would’ve told you that you were crazy. After seeing what the Mariners had to give up for Castillo it felt like there was no way they’d be able to keep all three of Volpe, Dominguez, and Peraza. Turns out I was wrong.
The package here hurts but is one that you have to accept to get good players. Waldichuk was the Yankees top pitching prospect and I couldn’t shut up about them moving him to the bullpen for the playoffs. Alas. Turning a fifth round pick in 2019 into the headliner for a #2 starter in 2022 is pretty sweet. The pitching factory chugs along.
Medina was out of options after this year and was always going to be dealt at the deadline. Hopefully he can harness his stuff in Oakland. Sears hurts in that he was very good in spot starts this year and now those innings will go to Domingo German. That being said he kind of falls in the same boat as Wesneski as a guy who was going to teeter as depth the next few years. Makes sense to cash in now. Bowman has some potential as a bench bat but was never going to carve out a spot on the Yankees roster.
Theres an additional layer of injury concern here which I touched on yesterday. Having your big acquisition, and the guy you envision starting Game 2 of a playoff series, fresh off a shoulder injury isn’t ideal. They must feel good about the medicals and what they saw in the two starts since he has returned. They don’t make this trade if they’re deeply concerned. Montas is more than a rental. The Yankees will have him in the rotation in 2023 as well. With Jameson Taillon and potentially Luis Severino becoming free agents after this year Cashman saved himself some work this offseason. They can now pencil Cole, Montas, Montgomery, Cortes, and maybe Severino into their rotation for next year.
Lou Trivino is another interesting wrinkle here as well. Sweet Lou has been pretty awful this year, posting a 6.47 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 32 innings. You don’t have to look too far back to find success though, last year he posted a 3.18 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 73.2 innings saving 22 games along the way. Trivino makes no sense in that he is a reliever that throws five pitches more than 10% of the time. Why? Let’s bog this down to two or three and scrap the funny stuff.
The Athletics infield defense has been worth a whopping -16 DRS this season which is not a recipe for success for a guy like Trivino who has a 53.2 GB%. The velocity is still there and the Yankees are much better defensively. The Yankees seem to wave a magic wand and fix these guys overnight. Hopefully Lou drinks the magic potion as well. Like Montas and Effross, Trivino is no rental. The Yankees can control LT through 2024.
All told this trade was kind of best case scenario for the Yankees. Losing three guys who are ready or near ready for the bigs sucks. But if it means keeping your top four prospects it’s a pill you have to swallow. They gained two pitchers who can help them this year and next and landed a guy that if healthy will slot in the playoff rotation as the Yankees prepare to make a World Series run. Hell of a job by Brian Cashman here.
3.) One thing I can’t seem to figure out is how these three pitchers will slot onto the 26-man roster. German will be sent down after tonight and Clarke Schmidt was already optioned before the game. That leaves one slot that needs to be opened. The Yankees can only have 13 pitchers max on their roster and there is no obvious person to send down.
Ron Marinaccio and Wandy Peralta both have options remaining but they’re both too good (in theory) to be wasting away in Triple-A. Jonathan Loáisiga can also be optioned but he’s a year removed from being arguably the best reliever in the sport. The Yankees need him to get right in the majors for October. As much as i’d love for them to ditch Aroldis Chapman it won’t happen.
That leaves Lucas Luetge or Albert Abreu and … I just don’t know. Lutege has been hella good, posting a 2.70 ERA (2.52 FIP) and Abreu has unlocked a new gear since coming back. Both are essentially house money at this point so maybe the Yankees flip one of them tomorrow? It feels like another move is coming. Short of that I would guess Marinaccio gets the short end of the stick until another injury pops up. Do not quote me on that though.
4.) Soooooo … when do the Yankees call up Oswald Peraza? I was resigned to the fact he would be dealt for a pitcher but that doesn’t seem to be the case so what are we waiting for here? Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been fine-ish holding down the fort but he is not a difference maker. The occasional highlight reel plays and singles do not drown out the noodle bat and botched routine grounders.
Peraza started the year slow but is hitting .301 with nine home runs and 14 stolen bases over the last two months. By all accounts he is a no doubt shortstop and there are no defensive concerns. Last winter, Brian Cashman said Peraza’s defense was major league ready. I doubt that has changed.
I don’t see what there is to lose here. He is already on the 40-man so they don’t have to make another move. Worst case he flops and they can turn back to IKF. Best case his speed and power lengthen the lineup and diversify the team. Sometimes you can feel the Yankees not loving their highly ranked prospects (Justus Sheffield, Jesus Montero) and were getting into that territory if Peraza isn’t given a chance by the end of the year. He’s as ready as he’s going to be. Make the call.
5.) During all the madness today Jon Heyman tweeted that the Angels have decided to hang onto Shohei Ohtani. Not really a surprise. A deal never seemed likely. If anything Los Angeles was just laying the groundwork for this winter. Trading Ohtani is not something you rush at the deadline.
Heyman also mentioned the Yankees made a ‘serious trade offer’ for Shohei. Now, I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think Cashman makes that call not expecting to give up Anthony Volpe. Ohtani would’ve been the bat AND the pitcher the Yankees needed. You’d get them both in one trade for the same guy.
Once upon a time Ohtani as a perfect fit for the Yankees roster. It’s a bit dicer now with Giancarlo Stanton in the mix. The fit, at least offensively, would not have been seamless. There would have been some decisions to make this year and next. But, who cares? Go get the best player in the World and figure it out later. When Shohei Ohtani is available you try to get him.
Even with the imperfect fit Ohtani feels like a guy that Cashman can’t help himself with. He landed Gerrit Cole who he previously called his white whale. I think Ohtani is his new white whale. And you know what? The Yankees can revisit this in the offseason if he becomes available! They kept their top four prospects in Volpe, Peraza, Jasson Dominguez, and Austin Wells. They crank out talent from Latin America. The Yankees can still make a competitive offer of Shohei if he does hit the market this winter. I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of this potential marriage.
6.) It wasn’t all candy and rainbows. The Yankees managed to sneak in the news that Luis Severino had been transferred to the 60-day IL before tonights game. By my math that puts his return at September 13th against Boston. As an old friend used to say, it’s not what you want.
How much does this change? I don’t know. The Yankees are not transparent about injuries. Luis Severino began his throwing program today and gave Aaron Boone a thumbs up indicating it went well. That was before the 60-day IL news. So either something went wrong after that or they’re just being cautious.
Severino isn’t known to be the quickest healer and the Yankees have a generous lead in the division. It’s possible they’re just giving him extra time and saving the bullets for October instead of risking him blowing up again. We were already looking at 2-3 weeks from now as a best case for a return and this buys him another couple weeks. That being said with Sevy’s history I can’t help but take this as an ominous sign. Hopefully we find out more in the post game tonight.
If he does return I think this means it’s likely going to be as a reliever. I wrote about this last week. With Montas in tow it makes even more sense. Using Sevy across multiple games for a handful of innings can have a greater impact than those same amount of innings in one game. I may very well be wrong, but given the extended IL stint and hole in the bullpen it’s seeming more likely he comes back in a relief role.
7.) Are the Yankees done? I think theres another move coming and I don’t mean the inevitable Joey Gallo trade. I have been unable to shake the feeling of the random bombshell hitting Twitter. The Yankees have more or less filled all of their needs but they still have plenty of ammo to make another move.
Given the Severino news I bet Cashman is still working the phones for another starter. Perhaps that is someone in the tier of Noah Syndergaard. But why not still pursue Carlos Rodón? With him being a rental the Yankees might be able to acquire him without touching their top four prospects. The Giants reportedly want to get better and more athletic defensively. The Yankees could offer a package including one or both of Oswaldo Cabrera or Estevan Florial as near major league ready players that can diversify the Giants aging roster.
With Montas having his own injury concerns and the rest of the rotation looking shaky, slotting Rodón in wouldn’t be very hard. Imagine a Cole-Rodón-Montas top three in the playoffs. I’ll take my chances with that against anyone. I might be wrong and just drunk on the trade deadline serum, but Cashman shutting off his phone with a day to go seems unlikely. It feels like that big bald head is cooking something else up.