The Yankees have swung a deal for three White Sox players that will shore up multiple parts of New York’s roster. Despite the fact that the Red Sox were reportedly closing in on a trade for Todd Frazier and David Robertson, the Yankees swooped in and got both with a bonus Tommy Kahnle as well.
Prospects heading to the White Sox include outfielder Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, and outfielder Tito Polo. Reliever Tyler Clippard is heading to Chicago in the deal as well.
Rutherford was the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2016. The Yankees were able to grab him lower than expected because of other teams’ concerns about his signability, but the outfield ahead of him is incredibly crowded. Clarkin was part of the trio of first rounders that brought the Yankees Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo, and Clarkin in 2013, but injuries have derailed his professional career to this point.
Losing a prospect as highly regarded as Rutherford hurts, but his path to the majors is certainly not clear with so many good outfielders ahead of him. The Yankees have so much depth at multiple positions that they can afford to deal from their strengths. They did that by parting with Rutherford.
#Yankees love Rutherford, here comes but: included him in Quintana talks, don't believe stays in CF, are blessed with tons of OF prospects— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 19, 2017
Rutherford may have the higher rating but vast majority of those covering the Yankees system have Florial rated higher as OF prospects go— Erik Boland (@eboland11) July 19, 2017
Todd Frazier makes a lot of sense for New York because of the utter black hole they’ve had at first base all season. The Toms River, NJ, native has always seemed destined for the Yankees since posing in a picture with Derek Jeter eons ago. The team hasn’t had a place for him until now. Frazier doesn’t have eye-popping numbers this season, but his 16 home runs and 103 wRC+ represent an obvious upgrade over other first base options.
Robertson would be coming home to the Bronx after signing a free agent deal with the White Sox when the Yankees opted for Andrew Miller instead. The former New York closer has been effective for the White Sox this season with a 2.70 ERA in 33.1 innings. As he did with the Yankees, Robertson continues to strike out opposing batters at a high level with a 12.69 K/9 this year.
Kahnle was lost in the Rule 5 draft after being in the Yankees’ organization. New York didn’t find a place for him on their 40-man roster before the Rockies grabbed him and put him on their 25-man roster for the season. He’s been outstanding in Chicago this season, pitching to a 2.50 ERA with a 15 K/9 in 36 innings.
New York’s bullpen has been a source of frustration for the last month with the struggles of Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman. Robertson and Kahnle represent obvious upgrades over some lesser relievers that Joe Girardi has had to reply upon.
New York had to give up better prospects in order to get Kahnle, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. It also allowed them to dump Clippard on the White Sox after he tanked to close out the first half of the season. The White Sox took on Clippard’s deal in exchange for what’s left of Robertson’s four-year, $46 million contract. New York could have kicked money in on the deal to keep the prospect cost down, but it appears that no money will be exchanging hands.
By not including Jorge Mateo, among others, in this deal, the Yankees still have the prospects to go out and get some starting pitching if they choose. Mateo is another player whose path to the majors is blocked by others in front of him. That could make him a prime target to be sent to another team if Brian Cashman goes for someone like Sonny Gray.