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Yankees trade Adam Ottavino to Red Sox in salary dump

Hal Steinbrenner got a little help from an old rival to clear payroll.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

If you woke up this morning expecting to see another Yankees roster move to make room for both DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, that probably made sense. If you woke up this morning expecting the Yankees to possibly move reliever Adam Ottavino, that tracks with recent news as well.

If you woke up this morning expecting the Yankees to come to terms with the Red Sox on an Ottavino trade, well, I want tomorrow’s lottery numbers from you as soon as possible. It’s their first trade since the infamous Stephen Drew trade deadline swap in 2014.

Lindsey Adler of The Athletic broke the surprising news that Ottavino was shipping up to Boston around lunchtime on Monday, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that in order to ensure Boston took on all but $850,000 of his remaining contract, pitching prospect Frank German would be heading to the Red Sox alongside Ottavino. (The Yankees will also get a player to be named later at some point, or Hal’s favorite, cash considerations.)

German was only considered the No. 24 prospect in the Yankees’ system by MLB Pipeline, so he’s unlikely to be a great loss, but why was he attached? To help clear extra payroll space, of course.


To those who have wondered whether the Yankees really intended to stay under the $210 million threshold to avoid CBT penalties, this should be your final confirmation. This is a payroll-clearing move, clear and simple. It doesn’t matter that Ottavino was good in 2019, or that a couple bad months masquerading as a full season have clouded his reputation. It doesn’t even matter that there is an easily foreseeable scenario where Ottavino carves up the Yankees’ righty-heavy lineup in pivotal games next summer! Hal Steinbrenner wanted to find a way to move some money around, potential consequences be damned.

I know the Yankees needed to find an extra spot on the roster, but sending a potential bullpen weapon to a division rival seems like a questionable way to do so. It doesn’t help that we’re somehow already getting the “Ottavino couldn’t handle New York” narrative, even though the dude is literally from Brooklyn (as noted by Jon Heyman).

Anyway, congratulations to the Steinbrenner family for saving some money. Ideally, Ottavino proves that his 2020 self is indeed who he is going forward, and Brian Cashman is able to redistribute his payroll space to more essential roster pieces that go beyond re-signing Brett Gardner. We’ll see.

UPDATE: Done deal.