For a franchise that’s barely been around for a quarter of a century, the Yankees and the Diamondbacks have hooked up on a surprising number of trades. There are 16 in total, a fascinating amalgamation of name-brand All-Stars and roster-fringer filler. You’ve got some big hits, and a lot of exchanges with names nobody will recognize. For such a limited history, it’s hard to be mad at some of these hits.
December 5, 2014: As part of a 3-team trade: The Tigers send Domingo Leyba and Robbie Ray to the Diamondbacks. The Yankees send Shane Greene to the Tigers. The Diamondbacks send Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.
It’s pretty simple: Didi Gregorius was given the nigh-impossible task of stepping into Derek Jeter’s shoes, and despite some bumps in the road early on, he filled the role with aplomb, averaging around 3 WAR per year over five seasons in the Bronx, a tenure that included its share of drama and playoff heroics.
Wonderfully, all it cost the Yankees was Shane Greene, who was a breakout rookie starter in 2014 but was only a fine reliever in the end — albeit one who notched 67 saves and an All-Star appearance. That’s nothing of the magnitude of what the Detroit Tigers had to give up in this three-team trade, a young lefty named Robbie Ray. It’s a win-win, as far as the Yankees and Diamondbacks go!
January 11, 2005: The Yankees trade Javier Vázquez, Dioner Navarro, and Brad Halsey to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson.
The vibes here are just bad all around. Vázquez had arrived from the Expos with much fanfare the year before at the cost of a pair of quality young hitters in Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera, and halfway through the 2004 season, the four-year extension he signed looked like a fine deal. Then, as you might remember, things stopped going so well. He ran a 6.92 ERA in the second half and got repeatedly shelled in the postseason, and a few months later, the Yankees’ once-presumed ace had been turned into a 41-year-old Randy Johnson.
Granted, Johnson was coming off a second-place Cy Young finish at the time, but age had already begun to catch up on him the year prior, and his salary was a fair bit higher than what they agree to with Vásquez. He delivered one strong season, good for nearly 6 WAR in 2005, but that was overshadowed by a failed pitcher/catcher relationship with Jorge Posada and an ugly start in a losing ALDS against the Angels. Johnson simply delivered a dud amid back injuries in 2006, and for the second year in a row, his Game 3 loss put New York in an ALDS hole that they couldn’t escape.
Thus, as with Vásquez, things turned sour, and the team found it better to send him packing back to Arizona almost two years later to the day, receiving the paltry return of Alberto González, Ross Ohlendorf, Luis Vizcaíno, and Steven Jackson.
Throw in the few solid seasons behind the plate that Dioner Navarro gave a few different teams, and you’ve probably got a net negative on this deal. It could’ve been worse, I suppose?
Most Overlooked Trade
July 31, 2014: The Yankees trade Peter O’Brien to the Diamondbacks for Martín Prado.
Prado was Brian Cashman’s underwhelming attempt at patching midseason holes in a year in which it just wasn’t meant to be, and like Brandon McCarthy in the next blurb, it wasn’t for Prado’s best efforts, as he hit .317 and surged for seven homers — and a 145 OPS+ — in just 37 games after switching leagues, one of the biggest power surges of his career. Prado was a quality and often overlooked player, finishing with over 1500 career hits and a .287 batting average. One might wonder if the 2015 Yankees might have been more competitive with Prado manning the keystone than they were with Stephen Drew.
We’ll never know though, because more interesting than Prado’s performance for the Yankees is what he brought back in a trade. With half of his four-year, $40 million contract still remaining, Cashman sent him to Miami alongside David Phelps for a package that included Nathan Eovaldi and Domingo Germán. Not many of the trades on this list still had ramifications in 2023, but this is one of them!
July 6, 2014: The Yankees trade Vidal Nuño to the Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy.
You know what was weird? The two- or three-year stretch there when Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart were running the Diamondbacks. La Russa’s disastrous recent stint with the White Sox might have been more of a national embarrassment, but it wasn’t even the first time within the decade that he’d driven a team into the ground!
Anyhow, this trade was a product of that administration, as the out-of-contention Diamondbacks more or less gave away McCarthy for the stretch run, where he gave the Yankees a valiant 2.89 ERA in 14 starts of a futile playoff chase. It’s hard to believe the D-Backs couldn’t procure more than Nuño, a non-prospect who had dominated the lower minors as a 24-year-old and then endured a 4-19 record over his first three big league seasons, but that’s how it goes, I guess. In another year, it might have been a difference-maker.
Other Trades of Note
December 8, 2009: As part of a 3-team trade: The Tigers send Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. The Tigers send Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks. The Yankees send Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers. The Yankees send Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks send Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers.
This one would probably qualify for “Most Interesting,” if that were a category under consideration here, though it’s admittedly more appropriate in our Tigers trade history article. Granderson did as much for the Yankees as anybody mentioned in this article, while Kennedy briefly fulfilled his early-career promise with a 21-win, fourth-place Cy Young finish season in 2011, the same year Grandy finished fourth in MVP voting. Jackson was the Rookie of the Year runner-up the year following the trade, and accumulated 20+ WAR for Detroit. The trade also saw Edwin Jackson change hands, going from Detroit to Arizona with Max Scherzer going the other way. There aren’t many other, but you could say this is “of note!”
February 20, 2018: As part of a 3-team trade: The Yankees send Taylor Widener to the Diamondbacks. The Yankees send Nick Solak to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays send Steven Souza Jr. to the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks send Brandon Drury to the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks send players to be named later and Anthony Banda to the Rays. The Diamondbacks sent Sam McWilliams (May 1, 2018) and Colin Poche (May 1, 2018) to the Rays to complete the trade.
The Yankees sure do love their three-way trades with Arizona. That’s a whole lot of players moving around and accomplishing very little in their new uniforms, huh?