The Yankees had one of the strongest farm systems in baseball for a couple seasons in a row. That’s no longer the case, which is okay. They’ve graduated a ton of prospects that have essentially all turned into big league talent, and they’ve traded away prospects for more big league talent. In this article, I’m going back to the 2017 trade deadline (sorry James “Untouchable” Pazos fans) and catching up with the former-Yankee prospects that have been traded away.
July 19, 2017: Traded Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard to the Chicago White Sox. Received Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson.
This is probably the second-biggest trade in this piece. The Yankees sent out three minor leaguers and a subpar reliever for three major pieces of their 2017 playoff run. There’s probably an article’s worth of things I could say about the Yankees’ return in this deal, but let’s focus on who they sent away.
Blake Rutherford was undoubtedly the biggest prospect sent away in this deal, and he’s been good but not great for the White Sox since. In 2018, he spent 115 games at Advanced-A ball, hitting .293/.345/.436 with 25 doubles, 9 triples, and 7 homers. It seems the Yankees might have sold high on Rutherford. He projects to be a second-tier starter now.
Ian Clarkin’s been in news the last few weeks, but not for his rather unimpressive stat line the past two seasons. The White Sox waived Clarkin a few weeks ago and was claimed by the Cubs. Less than a week later, the Cubs waived him and Clarkin was claimed by the White Sox. After pitching to a near-5 ERA in fewer than 70 Double-A innings last year, Clarkin’s stock doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Tito Polo was never much of a prospect, and he’s mostly served as an organizational-type outfielder. He completed another season at Double-A in 2018.
July 30, 2017: Traded Dietrich Enns and Zack Littell to the Minnesota Twins. Received Jaime Garcia.
Both Dietrich Enns and Zack Littell have made their Major League debuts with the Twins since being dealt, but neither one has been very impressive. Enns made two appearances for the Twins in August of 2017, but hasn’t been back in the majors since. He spent 2018 between Double-and Triple-A.
Littell was an effective pitcher at Triple-A in 2018 and got called up to serve as a spot starter/long reliever. In 20.1 innings, hitters tagged him for a 6.20 ERA and a 5.92 FIP. Both pitchers are still with the Twins.
July 31, 2017: Traded James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler to the Oakland Athletics. Received Sonny Gray and international bonus slot money.
This trade didn’t work out for the Yankees, but in hindsight, they didn’t give up much of value either. James Kaprielian was on the mound during instructional leagues this season, the first time he’s throw against live hitters since joining the A’s. Scouts said Kaprielian was sitting 88-91 MPH with his fastball and that his slider exhibited less bite than it had previously. Perhaps that is to be expected in his first appearances since Tommy John, but undoubtedly, Kaprielian’s stock was much higher when he was with the Yankees.
Jorge Mateo turned in a truly terrible season at the plate in Triple-A this year. Questions about Mateo’s contact ability were always there, but this season he posted a 27.3% K rate and a 62 wRC+. Mateo still has 80--grade speed but only 71% of his stolen base attempts were successful.
Dustin Fowler has the most MLB experience of the trio, but he hasn’t been able to translate that experience into much success. In 2018, he spent 69 games with the A’s, but his 65 wRC+ leaves much to be desired. Fowler was optioned back down to Triple-A at the end of the season and was not on the playoff roster for the Wild Card Game.
December 11, 2017: Traded Jose Devers, Jorge Guzman, and Starlin Castro to the Miami Marlins. Received Giancarlo Stanton.
Definitely the most important trade in this piece, Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers have found varying degrees of success with the Marlins. Guzman spent the season at High-A and posted a 4.03 ERA and a 4.45 FIP. He seemed to lose a little bit of command this season, as evidenced by his 6.0 BB/9. On the other hand, Devers doesn't strikeout or walk much, and his bat doesn’t have much thump (87 wRC+). Still, the 18-year-old found himself in High-A by season’s end.
Februrary 20, 2018: The Yankees traded Taylor Widener to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Nick Solak to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees received Brandon Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Tampa Bay Rays sent Steven Souza Jr. to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Sam McWilliams, Colin Poche, and Anthony Banda to the Tampa Bay Rays.
This one might hurt just a little bit because of the value, or lack thereof, that came back to the Yankees. Taylor Widener became a Top-100 prospect in 2018. The righty threw 137.1 IP at Double-A with 176 strikeouts and a 11.5 K/9. He’s the second-best prospect in Arizona right now.
Nick Solak turned in an equally impressive season in the Rays’ system too. Solak hit .282/.384/.450 with 19 HR and 21 SB at Double-A. He’s currently the eleventh-best prospect in the Rays’ system and the tenth-best second base prospect in the MLB.
March 16, 2018: Traded Jake Cave to the Minnesota Twins. Received Luis Gil.
Jake Cave got dealt because there wasn’t any room for him the Yankees’ organization anymore. He had a pretty decent year for the Twins. In 91 games, Cave hit .265/.313/.473 with 13 HR and a 110 OPS+. Cave probably won’t be anything more than a fourth outfielder, but a 108 wRC+ from your backup center fielder isn’t too bad at all.
July 24, 2018: Traded Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers to the Baltimore Orioles. Received Zach Britton.
The last trade on the list has already generated major league innings for the Orioles. Josh Rogers made three starts for them before season’s end. He had two decent starts and a terrible one. Rogers probably won’t ever be a fixture in a big league rotation, but he could easily serve as an up-and-down arm for a team like the Orioles.
Cody Carroll does have the stuff to be in a big league bullpen full time. He’s got a fastball up near 100 MPH and a go-to out pitch. However, he’s struggled with comman and control. He doesn’t have to be perfect, but he’ll have to be sharper than he is right now to maximize his potential.
Finally, Dillon Tate had a poor finish to the season at Double-A. Tate’s stuff has been well-regarded but it hasn’t translated to missed bats. He recorded just a 4.7 K/9 in 40.2 innings at Baltimore’s Double-A affiliate. He could figure in to Baltimore’s 2019 plans at some point, though.
Overall, the Yankees haven’t really given up much while getting multiple big league players in return. Personally, my respect for Brian Cashman has only grown since I started researching this piece. The Yankees have made plenty of strong moves these last few years. The prospects they’ve held onto have found a success in the bigs and the ones they’ve dealt simply haven’t.