In an effort to strengthen the Yankees before the trade deadline and make a run at a playoff spot, Brian Cashman has pulled off another good deal. After years of talk and rumors, the Yankees have finally acquired Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres in return for pitching prospect Rafael De Paula and Yangervis Solarte. Sure, Headley isn't the player he was back in 2012, in fact, he's never been that player except for that one year, but what he is is an actual major league player, which they haven't had at third base for most of the year.
Headley has hit pretty poorly in 2014, with a .229/.296/.355 batting line, seven home runs, and a 7.2% walk rate, but, like Brandon McCarthy before him, there's reason to believe he can be an improvement to the Yankees over the second half of the season. First of all, he's been hitting .323/.323/.462 in the month of July, so the Yankees are acquiring a hot hand. Also taking him away from Petco Park and into Yankee Stadium can only help, as he's been relegated to a .243/.331/.372 hitter at home throughout his career. As a switch-hitter who can hit both lefties and righties, it will also help their lineup strength no matter the handedness of the pitcher.
The real reason this is a good deal, is because the Yankees gave up relatively nothing to get him. It was Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula. That was it. While Headley isn't amazing or anything, giving up relatively little, like with how they acquired McCarthy, should keep Yankees fans from demanding Cashman's blood. After a ridiculous start to the season from Solarte, the rookie unsurprisingly reverted into absolute garbage by Mid-May, hitting .186/.271/.264 in 145 plate appearances with a demotion mixed in there. I won't be sad to see him go. I actually don't really care.
I am a little bummed to see De Paula go, though, but in the end he's likely to be no real loss. While he impressed in the first half of 2013, pitching to a 2.94 ERA, 2.32 FIP, and compiling a 13.43 K/9 and 3.22 BB/9 in Low-A Charleston, it seemed that his arsenal was not up to snuff against High-A hitters. With only two pitches to speak of, his control issues were magnified by more selective hitters and the once seemingly amazing pitching prospect turned in a 6.06 ERA, 4.67 FIP effort with fewer strikeouts (9.18) and more walks (5.51). It didn't even seem to be growing pains either, as the 23-year-old right-hander could not fully recover this year with a 4.15 ERA and 3.34 FIP, despite better peripherals (10.52 K/9, 3.84 BB/9).
This is more a matter of scouting than actual results deeming him tradable. He might be finding modest success in High-A, but many evaluators have pegged De Paula as a future reliever, and that's not really worth holding on to. With Dellin Betances at the major league level, and the likes of Tyler Webb and Jacob Lindgren moving through the system, the Yankees likely saw De Paula as expendable, especially when his value hadn't fallen to "reliever" just yet. This is an instance where the Yankees saw his future value falling and made a move while he was still worth something. I'm sad to see him go, but I can't exactly fault the Yankees for making the deal.
Overall this is a good trade for the Yankees. Obviously, the way we judge this trade will be determined by how Headley does over the next two months, but in theory, like the McCarthy deal, it's a solid trade. Not as good as giving up Vidal Nuno for McCarthy, that's hard to replicate, but still solid nonetheless. Turning Solarte into Headley should be considered a magic trick. Headley isn't amazing, but he's still only 30, and will actually be able to play solid defense which the Yankees desperately need from at least one of their infielders.