Ninja Cash struck yesterday, though in a different form than usual. Rather than pulling off a shocking blockbuster trade or an out-of-nowhere free agent signing, the Yankees GM quietly swapped ... a fifth outfielder for a fringe reliever. Just like that, Mike Tauchman was off to the Giants, with left-handed pitcher Wandy Peralta en route to New York.
On the surface, this looks about as forgettable as a trade can get. Tauchman possessed an 81 OPS+ since his breakout 2019, and simply wasn’t getting much run in a crowded outfield picture. Peralta, 29, has a 5.40 ERA in 8.1 innings this season, and a 4.72 ERA for his career. That equates to a career 94 ERA+, and an overall WAR total below replacement level per Baseball Reference.
Peer a bit deeper, and it’s not hard to talk oneself into Peralta, at least to some small extent. The veteran has an interesting arsenal, and promising enough underlying stats to inspire hope that he could provide value in the underbelly of the Yankees’ vaunted bullpen.
Peralta has very good velocity from the left side, sporting a 95.8-mph average velocity on his four-seamer. He doesn’t use the pitch often, though; Peralta has thrown a four-seamer with 36-percent of pitches according to Statcast, and only used it 22-percent of the time last season. He’s something of a junkballer, with his slider coming in as his most used pitch each of the past three seasons. Peralta also employs a useful changeup about a quarter of the time.
The change is of particular interest. It comes with some real fade to it, and can flummox hitters when commanded well:
Indeed, Peralta has generated a .269 wOBA in plate appearances ending with the change since 2018, making it perhaps his most effective offering. Over that span, his slider has produced a .332 wOBA, and the four-seamer a .414 figure. Not revolutionary analysis here, but Peralta may stand to benefit from a few more changes in his repertoire.
There’s also some reason to believe Peralta has gotten a little unlucky. For his career, he’s allowed a wOBA of .329 and an expected wOBA of .318. If we take that xwOBA mark at face value, Peralta’s suffered some misfortune to come out of the wash with a career ERA near five. For what it’s worth, he has consistently excelled in suppressing hard contact, and ranks in the 89th percentile in that area during this young season.
Here's some interesting stuff about Wandy Peralta, via Statcast. (Red is good.) https://t.co/Zi0wpgmYY2 pic.twitter.com/mKtE2eXf46— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) April 27, 2021
The Yankees just might see in Peralta a slightly unlucky lefty with an intriguing slider/changeup combo, one that could provide a different look than that of their top relievers.
Peralta likely attracted the Yankees for non-performance reasons as well. He can’t hit free agency until after the 2023 season, and comes with one more minor league option attached, meaning the Yankees can freely swap him between Triple-A and the majors throughout the season. The team surely views that flexibility as a plus, given how aggressive this front office is about constantly rotating fresh arms onto the staff via the Scranton Shuttle.
At the end of the day, the Yankees didn’t trade away Tauchman just for the fun of it. They presumably see some chance Peralta helps them this season, even if he’s unlikely to truly move the needle in their ultimate push for a championship. Tauchman had a wonderful 2019 for New York, but just didn’t really have much of a place on the current roster. Hopefully, Peralta proves a better fit for this Yankees team.