As the Yankees continue their chase to the postseason, it makes sense to pause and consider how they got here. The emergence of a young core led to a dynamic first half, which saw the Bombers catapult into a playoff position. Deciding to capitalize on the club’s success, Brian Cashman made a series of moves to upgrade the team in July. It was by far the busiest trade deadline for the Yankees in some time.
For the most part, the trades worked quite well. The team remains in striking distance of the Red Sox for the AL East crown, and holds a Wild Card spot. Each piece the Yankees added contributed in some way to the current position. While much has been written on the players acquired, what about the prospects used to make the deals? A month removed from the frenzy, it makes sense to check in on how they’re doing.
The White Sox trade
On July 19th, the Yankees made a splash acquiring David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier from the White Sox. In return, they sent Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and Tyler Clippard to the South Side. Rutherford, the Yankees’ first round pick in the 2016 draft, was the centerpiece. Since the deal, he’s hit .228/.302/.272 with a 72 wRC+. Prior to the trade, Keith Law noted scouts soured on him and his inability to make hard contact. I still wouldn’t write him off just yet. He’s too young and talented.
Clarkin has managed only two starts in the White Sox’ system. He missed more than a month with a strained oblique. When on the mound, he’s pitched well, posting a 2.25 ERA (6.04 FIP) across eight innings. That’s a small sample size of course, but it captures him perfectly. He has a knack for outperforming his peripherals. The real question comes down to whether he can stay healthy over the course of a season.
Speaking of health, Polo also has spent a significant amount of time since the trade on the disabled list. He’s continued his success at the plate when healthy, though. In 79 plate appearances since the trade, he owns a .278/.342/.389 batting line with a 113 wRC+. Right now he’s slated to represent the White Sox in the Arizona Fall League.
While this post mainly looks at the prospects traded, it’s fun to track Clippard’s sojourns. He picked up two saves for the White Sox, pitching to a 1.80 ERA over 10 innings, before being flipped to the Astros. The second trade hasn’t treated him kindly though, as he owns a 7.71 ERA with a 4.85 FIP since joining Houston’s bullpen. That’s more like the Clippard we saw all through the first half.
The Twins trade
In the early morning hours of July 30th, the Yankees swung a small deal with the Minnesota Twins. In exchange for Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns, the Bombers received veteran southpaw Jaime Garcia. Enns made his major league debut on August 10th. He lasted 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. It doesn’t sound bad, but he labored intensely. After a rough appearance in relief, he was shut down with a shoulder injury. Enns is currently making rehab starts and could be back down the stretch.
Littell, on the other hand, has pitched well for Double-A Chattanooga. He’s made seven starts for the Lookouts, pitching to a 2.81 ERA with a 3.51 FIP. He seems to perform well wherever he goes. While I had no problem giving up the soft-tosser for Garcia, it’s possible the Yankees could regret this one.
The Athletics trade
This was the big one, the first prize trade. With an hour to go until the deadline, the Yankees landed Sonny Gray from the A’s in exchange for Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, and James Kaprielian. It was a high-risk, high-reward swap for both teams. That’s especially the case considering Fowler and Kaprielian suffered season-ending injuries and won’t play for Oakland’s affiliates this year.
Mateo, on the other hand, has been a nice little pickup for the A’s. He’s hit .283/.328/.480 with two home runs for the Midland RockHounds. That works out to a 121 wRC+. At 22.6%, Mateo’s strikeout rate is a bit high. After a slow start with the team, he’s turned it on of late.
The Yankees are in a good spot down the stretch, in no small part due to the trades they made at the deadline. That said, it’s still nice to check in on old friends. It’s good to see some of them doing well with their new organizations.