The Yankees gave up four minor leaguers in the deal last week to acquire reliever Aroldis Chapman. While most of the community thought that the Yankees didn't give up much in the deal, two of the four pieces were top 10 Yankees prospects, and one even saw time in MLB last season.
You may remember Renda as the guy the Yankees acquired in order to rid themselves of The David Carpenter Experience. Renda, 24, played second base for the Trenton Thunder after the trade, and he did fine offensively. He slashed .270/.328/.372 with a 103 wRC+ in 304 plate appearances. Also, both his walk rates and strikeout rates were 7.9%. Renda was expected to regress a little from his solid 2013 year on Washington's High-A team, facing tougher competition in Double-A. But, his bat was still pretty average for the Thunder.
Renda did fine offensively, but he struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball. In 564.1 innings at second base in Trenton, Renda committed a whopping 19 errors, yielding a low fielding percentage of .939. To compare, the Triple-A fielding percentage of Rob Refsnyder, a prospect who was thought of as not good defensively, was .967 in 2015.
While Renda provided some nice minor league depth with very little major-league potential, he was not in MLB.com's top 30 Yankees prospects, so his departure is far from the end of the world.
Unlike Renda, Cotham was able to crack the major league roster for some limited action last season. Granted, most of which came during September call ups, but he made appearances, nonetheless. Cotham was converted from a starter to a reliever following 10 starts in 2014. The 28-year-old right-hander pitched 9.2 innings at the MLB level last year, where he had a 6.52 ERA and a 6.55 FIP. Cotham spent the rest of his time in both Double-A and Triple-A. In 26 innings at Double-A, Cotham had a 2.77 ERA (2.42 FIP), as well as a 10.73 K/9 rate and a 2.77 BB/9 rate. Meanwhile, in 31 innings at Triple-A, his ERA was 1.74 (2.32 FIP), with a 8.71 K/9 rate and a 1.45 BB/9 rate.
Cotham was also not on the top 30 prospects list, and didn't have much upside to show at 28 years old. However, Cotham was able to make it to the majors last season, and could spring training, and if he can't make the team, he would definitely be a fringe guy for the Reds. With so many young relievers in the Yankees' organization, Cotham was just another name, and not exactly a guy to watch for.
The best prospect on this list so far (number 10 on MLB.com's ranks), Davis, 22, really opened some eyes last season with a great season in High-A, leading to a Double-A call up. In 97.1 innings at High-A, Davis really shined, with a 3.70 ERA (2.22 FIP), 9.71 K/9, and a 1.66 BB/9 rate. After a call up to Trenton in early August, Davis allotted 33.1 innings, where he gathered a 4.32 ERA (3.21 FIP), a 6.48 K/9 rate, and a 2.16 BB/9 rate. Another place where Davis shines is with his HR/9 rate, where his highest HR/9 rate in his career was a 0.53 rate in his first year of professional baseball in the Rookie League. In High-A and Double-A last season, Davis' HR/9 rates were 0.37 and 0.27, respectively.
Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs wrote a great piece projecting what each of the four prospects could turn into. In the piece, Mitchell argues Davis is the best prospect in this deal. And I can't help but agree. Davis was a steal considering where the Yankees drafted him in the 14th round. Davis could turn definitely turn into a major league rotation guy, but he still has some hurdles to jump. Back in August, Pinstripe Alley caught up with Davis, who spoke on the jump from High-A to Double-A.
When I asked him about the biggest differences he's noticed at the new level, Davis quickly pointed to the zone. "It's something that's not a huge jump, but there have definitely been a couple 0-0 pitches I would think I would get [in Tampa] that I'm getting balled here for. It's a learning experience, you know, and I've been fortunate to have been around the zone a lot this year, so I've got a good idea of when I'm gonna get balled and when I'll get a strike."
That change may be prompting Davis to throw safer strikes, which the more advanced batters at Double-A are jumping on. It's a problem that will quickly be remedied, and he feels that the development of his changeup will help him. "Being here [in Double-A], I'm trying to keep guys off balance, keep their timing off, and mix that changeup in. It's a work in progress."
Davis really stepped up his game in 2015, and MLB.com already has Davis as the Reds' number eight prospect. Davis is only 22, so he can still step his game up a good amount. Davis still isn't that close to MLB-ready, but once he gets there and adjusts, he has the tools to be a solid starter for years to come.
Although Jagielo was the highest ranked prospect in this deal (number six on MLB.com), Davis is definitely the best piece going to the Reds. But, Jagielo was having a pretty good 2015 offensively, before going down with a knee injury. In 248 plate appearances in Double-A Trenton, Jagielo slashed .284/.347/.495 with a 141 wRC+ and nine homers. Jagielo, 23, has been solid on offense in his three seasons in the organization. His wRC+ at each level in each season, Jagielo's wRC+ was 61, 172, 153, 125, 132, and 141.
While Jagielo's bat shows a lot of promise, there are two glaring negatives when it comes to the Notre Dame product. One would be the strikeouts. Last season, Jagielo's strikeout percentage was a glaring 23.4%. The bad thing is, this was the second-lowest of his professional career. In 2014 in High-A, Jagielo's percentage was 25.9%, along with a 25% rate in rookie league in 2013, and 24.8% in Low-A in 2013. Jagielo also has a big issue in the field. Last year, in 345.2 innings at third base in Trenton, Jagielo committed nine errors, which gave him a woeful .883 fielding percentage. The Thunder eventually gave Jagielo a shot at first base, prior to his injury, where he yielded a fielding percentage of .966 in 27 innings (one error). While Jagielo is not as position-less as former Yankees power prospect Peter O'Brien, he still has yet to be totally comfortable in the field, and now in the N.L. with no designated hitter, it may be a bit tougher for him to fit into the grand scheme of things for the Reds.
While Cotham and Renda add some depth to the Reds' minor league system, Davis and Jagielo were the real prizes to be had for Cincinnati. Davis has the tools to be a good starting pitcher. Jagielo, meanwhile, has some wrinkles to iron out with striking out and fielding, as well as staying healthy. But now that Todd Frazier is no longer a Red, that road to the MLB looks just a bit clearer.
Overall, from a purely baseball perspective, I think the Yankees got the better end of the bargain, giving up just two good prospects. The Yankees will now need to fill in the organizational gaps these four pieces left, but I don't think that should prove to be too difficult.