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.