The Yankees have acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia for prospects Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. What once looked like a simple ploy to gain leverage in the Sonny Gray negotiations has turned into an actual deal that will improve the team’s rotation simply by default, and actually improves their leverage going forward.
Following the news that Michael Pineda would undergo Tommy John surgery, the Yankees have been in need of a new fifth starter. Luis Cessa proved he couldn’t get the job done and Caleb Smith doesn’t look like he has the ability to go deep enough into games. We all thought this would be the perfect time for Chance Adams to make his major league debut, but the organization doesn’t feel like he is ready to make the jump.
While Gray would have been the perfect addition for this year and the next two, Garcia gets the job done right now without giving up the team’s top prospects. The team’s new pitcher comes to the Bronx with a 4.29 ERA and 4.04 FIP over 119.2 innings pitched this year. His peripherals of 6.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 aren’t the prettiest out there, but he will remain a good fit for Yankee Stadium.
Garcia doesn’t rely on velocity to get hitters out, with a fastball that averages 91 mph. Instead, his sinker allows him to keep the ball on the ground and limit the amount of home runs he allows, something Yankees fans might appreciate after watching this rotation surrender dinger after dinger. Over his career he has maintained a 0.8 HR/9 with a ground ball rate of 56.3%. The Yankees will take that as their new fifth starter.
According to the the details of this trade, New York will not be responsible for a pro-rated portion of Garcia’s $12 million contract. The deal is the final year of a contract he originally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals several years ago. Since that time, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves before the season and was just recently dealt to the Twins. After making one whole start, Garcia will be on the move again with cash in tow.
The best part of the deal is that it doesn’t preclude them from continuing to pursue Sonny Gray. Now that they technically have a full rotation, Brian Cashman can use that leverage to knock down the asking price a bit. A sixth starter would help ease the burden of pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia while also insuring that young arms like Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery aren’t overworked with regards to innings limits.
The Yankees are clearly prioritizing their best prospects this season. Billy Beane is reportedly demanding both Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, and could be interested in rising stud Estevan Florial. While this trade could be looked at as a way to get Beane to back down from his high asking price, it could just come down to the fact that Cashman is fine moving guys like Littell and Enns for a short-term boost. After all, what could we really expect from either of them going forward? We’ll see in the next few days what the plan was.