The pieces seem to be falling into shape for the Yankees and Cubs in their supposed talks to bring righty outfielder Alfonso Soriano back to New York. Joel Sherman reported that the Cubs were scouting Triple-A righty reliever Chase Whitley over the weekend, and Scranton writer Donnie Collins also noted that about five to six scouts in the past month had asked him about Whitley, who has pitched to a 3.52 ERA and 3.28 FIP in 38 1/3 innings this year.
I wrote about Whitley back in Spring Training when he was a non-roster invitee:
Chase Whitley, RHP
Age: 24 (born 6/14/1989)
2012 (AA/AAA): 43 G, 84.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.055 WHIP, 6.6 H/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
The last of the pitchers did not actually become one until his junior year at Troy University in Alabama. Whitley turned some heads and was then taken by the Yankees in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He moved quickly, spending about half a season each at Staten Island, Tampa, and Trenton before joining the Traveling Roadshow in Triple-A on April 13th of last season. Scouts consider Whitley’s changeup his best pitch, and former Padres great Trevor Hoffman demonstrated that if mastered, that’s all one needs out of the ‘pen. Whitley also has a low-90s fastball, and the fastball/change combination might give him an outside shot at a bullpen spot. More than likely though, he will begin 2013 looking to improve further with Scranton. (Video 1) (Video 2)
Whitley appears to be another one of the Yankees' nice late-round relievers with a decent shot of succeeding in the majors. He has an 8.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 this year, but he does have some red flags. Strangely, he has a reverse split going on in that lefties are only hitting .197/.304/.212 against him in 79 plate appearances, but righties are pounding him to a .315/.363/.438 triple slash. He did not have these problems last year in Scranton (lefties and righties hit him about equally as hard), so it could just be a small sample size abnormality.
Regardless, the Yankees have plenty of relief talent at least at Whitley's level in the pipeline. Sherman noted Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, Dan Burawa, Dellin Betances, and Tom Kahnle to name a few, and that's not even including the rehabbing Mark Montgomery. Parting with Whitley would not be a major blow at all to the Yankees; he's not even close to the relief prospect that Mark Melancon was in 2010 when they dealt him to the Astros for Lance Berkman in a similar salary dump.
If the deal only involves the Yankees on dealing Whitley and paying Soriano about $6 million, then that's not a bad trade at all. Nothing is definite yet though, so we will see.