Friday, May 15, 2015

Are the Yankees’ offseason trades working out?

The New York Yankees made three trades leading up to the 2015 season. Let’s take a look and see how they have worked out for the club thus far?

Trade: Catcher Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh Pirates for LH reliever Justin Wilson

The Yankees believed they had plenty of depth among catchers in their system making Cervelli expendable and wanted a lefty reliever who could also handle batters from both sides of the plate.

Performance season-to-date:

Cervelli – 98 plate appearances (PA), .270/.330/.337, 83 OPS+, six extra-base hits (XBH), 26 percent caught-stealing rate

Wilson – 15 G, 10.2 IP, 1-0, 4.22 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 98 ERA+, 0.94 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 5.1 BB/9

What you see from Cervelli is more or less what he has always has been. He gets on base often enough, but there is little power to go along with it. He’s a defensive-minded catcher. That said he is currently under league-average (29 percent) in caught-stealing rate for catchers.

Wilson has not been given as big of a role as anticipated and that might be because he has had big-time control issues. That is nothing new as the lefty has a career walk-rate of 4.0 BB/9. He’ll have reign in the walks if he is to become an impact reliever for the Yankees.

As a whole the trade is fine for the Yankees as John Ryan Murphy has filled in admirably for the Yankees and Wilson came with minimal cost and still has the potential to be a factor at the backend of the bullpen leading up to Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

Trade: As part of three-team trade, RH starter Shane Greene sent to Detroit Tigers; SS Didi Gregorius to Yankees via Arizona Diamondbacks.

The thought with Gregorius was to solidify the middle infield with an above-average fielder and hope that his bat would come along in time. The Yankees liked Greene, but felt they had enough depth and similar pitchers in the minor leagues to make up for losing a surprising piece of the 2014 season.

Performance season-to-date:

Greene – 7 GS, 42 IP, 3-2, 4.71 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 87 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9

Gregorius – 113 PA, .206/.268/.235, 44 OPS+, three XBH, 8.6 UZR/150

Greene came out of the gate on fire allowing just one earned run in his first 23 innings. He’s since allowed 21 in 19 innings.

Gregorius is hitting worse than he did with Arizona last season and looks like he is trying to do too much at the plate. Fortunately, as shown by his UZR/150 rating via FanGraphs, Gregorius has been very good in the field.

The argument about who "won" this trade could go on for a while as both players are relatively young. Again, the Yankees traded from an area of depth to fill a huge area of need. With Derek Jeter retired, the best shortstop prospect in the Yankees’ organization is Jorge Mateo who is playing in Low-A ball in Charleston.

Trade: RHP David Phelps, 2B/3B Martin Prado and cash to the Miami Marlins for RH starter Nathan Eovaldi, 1B/OF Garrett Jones and RHP Domingo German (minors)

The Yankees wanted a longer term solution to the middle part of their rotation and believed Eovaldi was a better answer than Phelps. They also figured that Prado’s two remaining seasons on his contract would inhibit their ability to get Jose Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder playing time in 2016, thus signing Stephen Drew to a one-year deal. The Yankees also received a bonafide first baseman to back up Mark Teixeira, something the club went without in 2014 and suffered for it.

Performance season-to-date:

Phelps – 7 G, 5 GS, 2-0, 2.90 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 138 ERA+, 1.23 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9

Prado – 145 PA, .291/.333/.381, 95 OPS+, 2 HR, 15 RBI,

Eovaldi – 7 GS, 41.1 IP, 3-1, 4.14 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 97 ERA+, 1.48 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (50 hits)

Jones – 37 PA, .167/.189/.250, 23 OPS+, one RBI

German – injured - Tommy John surgery

This one is not favoring the Yankees as of now and it might take some time for that to happen.

Phelps has been pretty good, though the low K/9 and high BB/9 show there is a chance for issues to develop. He provided glimpses of this kind of production while with the Yankees and yet always seemed to give it all away as the season progressed.

Prado racked up a 144 OPS+ in his short stint with the Yankees last season (137 PA), but his work in Miami has resembled more of what he produced in Arizona last season across 436 plate appearances (91 OPS+). He is surely outhitting Stephen Drew (who isn’t – oh wait – Gregorius), but again the extra year on Prado’s deal might have been considered an impediment in 2016, though the Yankees could have tried to trade him this coming offseason just the same.

German is out of commission for a while and we can throw Jones’ production out the discussion. Jones was a filler piece and he still might become valuable to the Yankees especially if Mark Teixeira suffers a long-term injury. He certainly has not received ample plate appearances to pass any judgment.

As for Eovaldi, he’s obviously the main piece of the deal for the Yankees now and they hope for the future. He came to spring camp early to work with Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild on developing his ancillary pitches and to better locate his high-power fastball. The results are slow to come.

Eovaldi is still not striking out nearly as many batters as one would expect from a pitcher who throws consistently in the mid-90s and can reach 98 mph. He is allowing way too many hits; something that plagued him in 2014 when he led the league with 223 hits allowed in 199.2 innings. This season he’s allowed 50 hits already which is a higher clip than last season (10.9 H/9 versus 10.1 H/9).

Eovaldi is a work in progress, one which will take more than a season to develop. Stay tuned.

In conclusion, the Yankees are not necessarily winning any of these trades as of now, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are biting them either. Only Greene worries me (and it’s an incredibly slight concern) as far as a player who could excel in the future.

The Yankees sent nothing of extreme value to any of the teams and received three players who are controllable and could make a difference in the long run. On their face the trades have not been fruitful yet, but given time there is a chance that each of them pays off to some degree.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for He is also a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.


  1. My personal observation is that the Yankees did not give up much and received about the same in return at this point in time. If Didi can start hitting and Eovaldi learns to pitch more effectively then the Yankees should be satisfied with the end result. If none of the trades had been made the Yankees more than likely would be where they are today. To me, the group of players that we received have a higher upside than what was traded away.

  2. With Carpenter and Rogers going so bad I would move Warren back into the bullpen depending on what Capuano shows in his first start. Otherwise I might recommend waiting until Nova and Tanaka are back before making the move. The Yankees should look to move some of their cold bodies Jones, Carpenter and Rogers to upgrade their overall depth on the team. Their bullpen is not nearly as deep as I thought it would be. Now would be a good time to call up Lindgren.

  3. I was opposed to NY trading Prado. Getting Eovaldi as a cost controlled SP was an OK move although right now he looks like a bottom of the rotation SP . When NY traded Prado they seemed determined to bring Headley on board. 2 years of Prado at 22 million or 4 years/54 million for Headley. Prado is a .290 hitter and plays good D at 2B,3B and LF. What happens in a year or 2 when Jagielo is ready ?
    Yanks traded away Greene and Phelps and in return they received 1 SP and a SP prospect.
    Yanks could have just as easily brought Drew on for 1 year to play SS and eventually shopped around for another SS this coming offseason. Prado could have played 3B.
    Cervelli for Wilson. Wilson is a walkathon Loogy while Cervelli is a damn good BUC. Yanks could possibly have moved Murphy to fill a position of need.
    Garrett Jones is a 34 yr old past his prime vet.
    I´m not sold on Gregorius as an everyday SS.
    I may be mistaken but I think NY traded away about 20 million in annual contract and brought on about 40 million.

  4. They signed Headley for 4 years to replace Prados 2 years. They also signed Drew making DiDi much less valuable.

    I would rather have Refsnyder and Prado in the infield and while I like headley his contract is the one that causes problems for any attempt at 189.

    The only way to fix this is to trade Didi and Eovaldi to the Rockies with Justin Wilson, Carpenter, Shrieve and Headley for Tulo.

  5. Eovaldi's season-to-date stats are still of a small enough sample size that I'd be more inclined to look at individual performances. His last start against the Rays would have been 6.0IP/0.00ERA if Girardi hadn't hung him out to dry in anticipation of a lot of bullpen support for Adam Warren the next night. And he was little short of awesome in spring training. His biggest problem, at least as far as assessing the trade is concerned, is that his fate as a trade winner is almost entirely out of his hands and instead in the hands of Jose Pirela and Stephen Drew.

  6. Thanks for reading and the comment Les. I agree that the Yankees could certainly gain more in the end in these deals. We'll see.

  7. All good points and thanks for the comment. The exercise was really meant to be an early check on where they stand currently. A lot can and will happen before a true determination can be made. I like the Headley deal, but I see your point about Jagielo. But who knows, Headley won't kill the payroll and maybe he's movable at the latter stages of the deal. I thought Wilson would be better despite the erratic way about him. I was never a big fan of Cervelli, rather see Murphy myself.

  8. Thanks for reading and the comment emac2. I don't see the Yankees ever getting Tulo via trade. It's just one of those things where the teams might never be willing to extend themselves on their part of the trade. I fear Tulo's durability even though he's one of the best when he is on the field.

  9. Thanks for the comment. I hear what your saying. If the Yankees can get middle-of-the-rotation efforts from him, I think they'll be happy. Phelps is never going to be that in my opinion.

  10. just a note on Wilson- he´s always had control issues, if he harnesses his talent he could be a very good RP.

  11. Thanks Les. Besides Betances and Miller the bullpen has been disappointing. I keep waiting for the Yanks to pull the trigger on Lindgren and they still have not. It's got to be coming soon. Rogers is a waste (I didn't understand signing him in the first place). Carpenter needs more work and he's had jus a few bad outings that were really bad and it earned him mop up duties. I believe he is better than that. I like Warren in the pen if everyone else is healthy. He can soften the extended use of Betances and Miller.

  12. I forgot to mention Pinder who has done an impressive job so far out of the bullpen. I totally agree with you on Rogers. It reminds me of the Drew situation, sending him out time and time again and expecting different results. The Yankees have a few dead pieces that should be moved or simply cut. This team to me is a poorly put together team. Both Teixeira and A-Rod have exceeded all expectations. Without their turnaround the team would be in last place. Their offense is absolutely terrible and likely to remain so. Even when totally healthy this team will struggle to score runs.

  13. Eovaldi can't be evaluated yet.

    Phelps was no great loss. he was undistinguished as a starter and probably couldn't hold a place in the 2015 Yankee bullpen.

    Prado was useful for this season and is missed..... but Eovaldi might work out exceedingly well.

  14. Pineda, Tanaka, Nova and Eovaldi are the 4 top staters if healthy

    and it's hard to see the Yankees having the idea that they could pull Sabathia out.

  15. My thoughts are that the team has a better record than anticipated at this point. Can they continue to overachieve, probably not. I am very leery of their offense at this point in time. They consistently put out two batters that struggle with the Mendoza line. The Manager is not implementing any small ball tactics to help offset their lack of hitting. The depth of their bullpen besides Miller and Betances is questionable.if any of their starters get hurt there is not much help especially at first base. I just hope that Cashman does not fall asleep on this team as it could get ugly in a hurry if he does.

  16. Thanks for reading and the comment. I think we can make a few inferences on Eovaldi, but true, his overall trade value needs to play out. I agree with you that he could become an important piece of the Yankees roster as time goes on.

  17. The offense is in a big slump, that's for sure, but they also showed they can score runs. Before the slump they were in the top 5 or 6 in various offensive categories. Drew and Gregorius are a black hole that needs to be taken care of soon. Drew probably has just a couple of weeks left before they pull the plug especially if they continue to slide as a team. They're lucky at this point (and it might remain a benefit to them all season) that the rest of the division has their own set of issues.

  18. Nobody in that division has come out with guns blazing at this point. That indeed has helped the Yankees to date. A few players got off to very good starts which helped pad their offensive stats. Can Ellsbury and Gardner continue their hot start? Can Teixeira and A-Rod stay healthy? Will the team be aggressive in the trade market if needed. Right now there are a minimum of 3 players that have no business being on the team. How long does Cashman stand pat with the makeup of the team? The answers to these questions will become obvious in a few months.