Lots of baseball news making the rounds this Friday afternoon in New York.
The Mets are reportedly kicking the tires yet again on Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, with Colorado reportedly looking for Noah Syndergaard plus in return.
The Yankees made another trade today, sending Martin Prado and David Phelps to Miami for Garrett Jones, Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Domingo German.
Let’s take a look at this trade piece-by-piece.
Prado had a fine half-season in pinstripes after coming to New York in a deadline deal from Arizona. He hit .316 with seven home runs in his 37 games, spending time at second, third and the corner outfield spots. With the Yankees signing Chase Headley to a four-year deal, Prado looked like the everyday second baseman in 2015. He’s under contract at $11 million per season through the end of 2016.
Phelps has bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen in his three years in a Yankees uniform. In 87 games, 40 of those starts, Phelps went 15-14 with a 4.21 ERA and a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Take this for what it’s worth, but Phelps pitched to a 0.0 WAR over 113 innings in 2014. So he gave you exactly what you’d expect from a guy yanked up from Triple-A. Still, with the Yankees still having a number of health questions in the starting rotation, Phelps figured to be a key part of the team either as a starter or in middle relief.
So why would the Yankees trade those guys away?
We’ll start with German, a 22-year-old right-hander who’s yet to pitch above Single-A. German, however, is 20-10 with a 2.33 ERA in his five seasons at the lower levels of the minors, including a 9-3 season in 25 starts in the South Atlantic League in 2014. In 123 1/3 innings, he struck out 113, walked 25 and allowed 116 hits. Will that translate as he progresses through the minors? Of course, that remains to be seen, but German sure looks like a young pitcher to watch.
Jones, a seven-season major league vet, gives the Yankees insurance at three key spots. He can play first base if Mark Teixeira is out for any length of time. He can also spell Carlos Beltran in right should Beltran have any injury problems. A left-handed hitter who’s hit an average of 18.8 home runs per season since becoming a lineup regular in 2010, Jones could also get plenty of DH at-bats should Alex Rodriguez struggle.
The real key piece in this trade in Nate Eovaldi, a right-hander who turns 25 in spring training. An 11th-round pick in 2008 by the Dodgers, Eovaldi was the major chip sent to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez trade. Eovaldi was a regular part of the Marlins’ rotation last season, going 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 33 starts. He allowed 220 hits in 199 2/3 innings but his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.30 was by far the best of his career. Eovaldi’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) came in at 3.37, so there’s reason to believe that he just had a really unlucky season defensively behind him. FIP basically measures what a player’s ERA would have been had he played with defense and balls in play data equalized to match league averages.
The Yankees have indicated that they believe they can “fix” Eovaldi and bring him back to top prospect status rather than the below-average back-of-the-rotation starter he looked like this past season. If that’s the case, then this trade makes a ton of sense from the Yankees’ perspective.
Even if they can’t totally get Eovaldi back on track, the Yankees did firm up the rotation with a guy who has proven he can go just about 200 innings. That’s a major boost to a team that’s unsure of what they’ll get from CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Ivan Nova should be back from Tommy John surgery at some point in the middle of the season. They also have Chris Capuano in the fold. Hiroki Kuroda has yet to indicate whether he’ll return to the Yankees, play in Japan or retire, but Kuroda might also play in here as well. Eovaldi might not make the Yankees’ rotation a great deal stronger, but he adds some depth and some insurance.
Now, the Yankees have opened at hole at second base. Will they fill it with rookies Rob Refsnyder and/or Jose Pirela? Or does GM Brian Cashman have another move up his sleeve? There are few options left on the free agent market. Asdrubal Cabrera would be one choice, but would he rather play shortstop for another team? Rickie Weeks and Emilio Bonafacio could also work, but how much better would they be than the kids?
The Yankees strengthened their rotation and their bench with this trade but they’ve also opened up the search for a new second baseman.