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Checking in on reactions to the Frankie Montas/Lou Trivino trade

The Yankees gave up some solid prospects for perhaps the best remaining starter on the market and a reliever with upside.

Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Yankees didn’t wait until the last waning minutes of the deadline to make what might be their biggest splash. Yesterday, they acquired starting pitcher Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trivino from the Oakland Athletics for JP Sears and prospects Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, and Cooper Bowman.

The Yankees undeniably needed to shore up their pitching staff for the playoff run. The consensus appears that they did just that.

Gerrit Cole is the team ace and Nestor Cortes is having a season to remember, but the starting rotation had a lot of question marks. Luis Severino is incredible at his best but is stuck on the injured list, and Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery have been quite inconsistent lately. The team needed a surer thing to slot behind Cole, especially with Sevy announced as not returning until mid-September at earliest. They may not want to use him in the playoff rotation at all.

One of the positives of the deal is that unlike with the Andrew Benintendi deal, the Yankees didn’t trade for a pending free agent. Montas and Trivino aren’t half-season rentals. Montas is a free agent after next season, while Trivino is after 2024. This is both a “win now” and “win later” (or at least “win in the very near future”) trade.

It probably stung GM Brian Cashman the most to send over Ken Waldichuk. The left-handed pitcher has seen his stock soar since spring training, and he is now considered one of the Yankees’ best pitching prospects and a top prospect in MLB overall. After a midyear promotion from Double-A Somerset, he’s been pitching on the cusp of the majors in Triple-A with a 3.59 ERA and 34-percent strikeout rate in 11 starts.

Still, the Yankees made a big splash without having to give up their very best prospects, including coveted shortstops Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Trading for the Reds’ Luis Castillo would almost certainly have required parting with one of them, so the Yankees shopped one tier down.

Manager Aaron Boone, unsurprisingly, is happy to have another top-quality arm to plug into the rotation behind Gerrit Cole. Of note, Montas was sidelined with shoulder inflammation in early July. His velocity dropped noticeably in his July 3rd start, and and MRI revealed the inflammation but no structural damage. He received a cortisone shot and returned to the rotation on July 21.

Montas is in good company with potential Cy Young winner Shane McClanahan in terms of the strikeouts and groundballs they get. Evidently, the Yankees like his peripherals, and probably think they can make him ever better. Simply pitching in front of a much better defense than Oakland’s should give Montas (and Trivino) a bump, even if nothing else changes in terms of their stuff or pitch usage.

Let’s not forget Trivino. His numbers are surface-level shaky, but his ability to strike batters out has to have the Yankees rushing him into the door of Matt Blake’s office to see if he can be improved.

Although the deadline looms later this afternoon, it looks like Cashman might be just about done tinkering with the team, barring the trade of Joey Gallo that has felt inevitable since the Andrew Benintendi acquisition. It’s a good spot to be in, with the team definitely improved on paper. Now, it’s time to to see if Montas and Trivino can truly help right the New York ship that’s been a bit shaky lately.