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Yankees trade Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones: Yankees choose upside

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This won't make the team undeniably better next year, but it certainly makes sense in the long run.

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I don't think many Yankees fans will be absolutely thrilled about this trade, but I am incredibly pleased as Brian Cashman and the Yankees traded David Phelps, Martin Prado, and an undisclosed amount of cash to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, and Domingo German.

A big part of the transition into the post-Core Four Era has to do with sustainability and upside. For the past few years, this team has been in a perpetual state of "win now" and undeniable downside. And when you're in that precarious position, the front office is forced to fight upstream against a river of downside with ever larger free agent acquisitions to stem the tide. And when players over 30 regress about a half-win each year, a large signing only offsets the natural aging curve. But with this trade, the Yankees have a cause for optimism that the team can trend in a positive direction.

David Phelps, a piece in this trade, was a 14th round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, and he certainly was a large return on investment: he served as a competent swing-man and bullpen arm for three years in about 300 innings. But, once again, what upside is there in him? At 28 years old, he's already heading towards decline with an already shaky role. Those types don't last for much longer once they turn 30 (Just ask Ross Ohlendorf). And in Martin Prado, there was value in flexibility, but he was certainly expendable with Chase Headley now on board. Prado is projected to be about a league-average hitter and player in both 2015 and 2016, and that's nothing to scoff at, but with backups galore in the infield and the possibility of the Rob Refsnyder experiment, the Yankees effectively trade a current win or two in 2015 for the possibility of more in the future.

And that's the key here: trading a small amount of present wins for the possibility of future wins. The Yankees obtained Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo German, and Garrett Jones; the latter is a true first baseman who could fill in for Mark Teixeira in a pinch (and by pinch, I mean for 50 games), and the former are the key pieces in the way of upside.

Eovaldi is a soon-to-be 25-year-old, a hard throwing right-handed starter who has already put up 4.3 rWAR/5.6 fWAR into his age 24 season, with a career ERA+ of 95. It's not spectacular, but look at his age once more. There are obvious concerns about his splits in Yankee Stadium, and for good reason:


Source: FanGraphs

Obviously, there's the possibility that he endures a spike in HR/FB%, and that's not that great for a fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium. His current HR/FB% sits a respectable 6.9%, but I would imagine Larry Rothschild will try to coax fly balls to left and center field, or he will try to find better ways of attacking left-handed hitters who hit .288/.350/.421 against him. Certainly, there are concerns, but at the same time, he has a floor of a mid-rotation arm with the possibility for more growth.

Then there is the lottery ticket of Domingo German, who is just that. German is a right-handed 22 year-old who pitched to a 2.48 ERA/3.26 FIP in 123.1 IP in the South Atlantic League, so who knows how he turns out. Jason Parks said the following about him in the spring: "Most likely a late-innings arm, with double-plus FB and an above-average slider coming from a whippy release", and Kiley McDaniel gave him a future value of 45 with the possibility of four 50-grade pitches. That's not too bad.

In the short-term, this could hurt the team. If and when an injury strikes, the Yankees may be longing for the flexibility that Prado provides. But, the Yankees now have a true backup for Mark Teixeira for the first time in a while, a young and cost-controlled starter with upside, and a lottery ticket prospect. Like with the Didi Gregorius trade, the Yankees have decided to take a risk on cheaper and younger players with a chance for growth. They could bust, but the Yankees have the financial might to plug holes should these young players fail. But nonetheless, we have seen a fundamental shift in the team's thinking: this team should not only be able to contend, but they should also be able to grow over time. They're not building a fan's pipe dream of a New Core Four™, but building around some younger players is certainly refreshing.