This time each year there are several articles published which give surprise players/teams and disappointing players/teams. Perhaps booms and busts. Or breakouts and brokens. This post is not one of them. You’re welcome. It is also not about the current Yankees, who were off yesterday, even though there is plenty to write about them (still leading the division, Judge tied with Trout and Sale for best fWAR, and leads everyone in bWAR).

What caught my eye today was a truly surprising stat: since leaving the Yankees, Ivan Nova, for Pittsburgh, has MORE COMPLETE GAMES THAN WALKS ALLOWED!! Really? Yes, last year for the Pirates he had three of each, and this year so far he has two complete game and only one strikeout. Now THAT’S a stat. So what I got to wondering is about the trades that the Yankees made at the deadline last year. You’ll remember that there were a slew of them, and Cashman was widely praised for reducing payroll while restocking the farm system, now rated one of the best in baseball. Bill James says you can’t evaluate a trade for at least 5 years, but it is more FUN to do it now. Here we go:

Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh for two players to be named. This was a straight “get middling prospects for a soon-to-be-free-agent” trade, designed to help the Pirates to the postseason. It also opened up a rotation slot for the Yankees to evaluate some possibly-ready AAA starting pitching talent, since they were (presumably) going nowhere themselves. Of course, they kind of got back into the wild card race and possibly could have used Nova, but he was inconsistent for them (7-5 4.90) and would be gone in two months. So who did they get? Tito Polo was a 21-year-old center fielder who played mostly for class A West Virginia and class A+ Bradenton and was named essentially after the season (August 30). He was a half year younger than league average at class A where he hit .302/.368/.551/919 and 1.7 years younger than average at A+ where he hit .276/.351/.346/697. He is on no one’s top prospects list, but a player who is hitting well below age level, and (sort of) holding his own WAY below age level has value. For what it’s worth, this year at A+ Tampa he is so far essentially duplicating last year’s numbers (OPS 699) and is 0.8 below the age average. Stephen Tarpley was also named on August 30, and was a 23-year-old pitcher who was 6-4 4.32 at Bradenton, where he was almost exactly league average. He hasn’t pitched at all this year, starting the year on the Class A DL. I’m quite sure Pittsburgh is delighted with this trade, while the Yankees are probably indifferent.

Carlos Beltran (and cash) to Texas for RHP Nick Green, RHP Erik Swanson and RHP Dillon Tate. Nick Green turned 22 in March, and played in 2016 in A- and A as a starting pitcher, where he was 0.3 and 0.8 years younger than league respectively. His combined line was 6-3 3.34 and his best work was done in class A (3-0 1.59). He is back there this year, off to a bit of a rough start (2-3 4.18) and he is now 0.3 above league average age. Erik Swanson is now 23 and in A+, where he is stretching out to be a starter, and is 0-0 1.50 so far in two starts, 12 IP. Dillon Tate was the true lottery ticket of this trade, a former #1 pick (4th overall) who turned 23 this past week, and has yet to impress. His career 4.29 ERA at low minor league levels is not really good, and he started the year on the DL. So mostly it looks like the Yankees missed on this trade, so far, and Beltran was great for Texas, so I suspect they don’t regret the trade. But of course the Yankees gave up nothing but two months of Beltran, and those two months were spent getting Judge over the MLB yips so he could become the monster he has been so far.

Vicente Campos to Arizona for Tyler Clippard. Campos (as Jose!) was the Seattle throw-in in the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero, and for a time looked like the most valuable piece of the trade (all the others having negative WAR, and he having no MLB result). And the Yankees flipped him for Tyler Clippard. Campos has one MLB appearance, pitching 5.2 innings of relief in a 13-0 loss, allowing 2 ER for an ERA of 3.18. This outing was not, actually, good though: he gave up 2 HR, 3 Hits, 3 Runs (2 earned) and walked 2. He was put on waivers by Arizona at the close of the season, and claimed by the Angels. He has started one game at AAA and one game at AA and was shelled both times, but he is still only 24 and could become something, I suppose. Meanwhile Clippard, formerly a Yankee who was traded even up for Jonathan Albaladejo and became a mainstay in the Nationals bullpen, was really struggling (2-3 4.30) in the D-backs pen, and the Yankees took a flyer on him. He replaced Andrew Miller in the Yankee scheme (no mean feat!) pitching 25.1 innings of 2-3 2.49 in their flirtation with last year’s pennant race, not exactly Andrew Miller but not chopped liver either. Now installed as the main 7th inning guy, his year-to-date is 11.2 IP, 0-1 1.54. I think it is safe to say that so far the Yankees have easily won this trade.

Andrew Miller to Cleveland for RHP Ben Heller, CF Clint Frazier, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, LHP Justus Sheffield. This one could obviously go either way. Cleveland is surely delighted with Miller, who not only pitched them into the World Series (which they ALMOST won, and he would have been the MVP I think) but he was NOT a rental – they have two more years of possibly the best reliever in baseball. The Yankee half is less clear: if they still had Miller, they might be even better than they have been so far, and none of the prospects they got have made an impact in the majors so far. Heller did get a September callup and appeared in 10 games. While his ERA was ugly (6.43) my metric has him as 7 effective, 2 ineffective, 1 yikes for a score of 3 in 10 appearances, which is a short sample grade of B. He will turn 26 in August, so he is probably not destined for stardom, but he could be a useful bullpen piece, though off to a bad start this season in AAA. Clint Frazier is an exciting outfielder, and a real prospect. He turned 22 in September, and is currently in AAA, 4.7 (!) years younger than league average. A former first round pick (#5 overall) he dominated AA but was overmatched last year in AAA, posting a 674 OPS in 30 games. So far this year he has been better, with a .239/.340/.477/817 line in 24 games. Still quite young, he projects to be a decent ML outfielder and has played all three outfield positions. If things broke right for him, he could be the Yankees CF of the future. Feyereisen is a lottery-ticket reliever, now 24 and still in AA but in part that is due to the glut in the Yankee system. He is more like another trade chip than a future Yankee, but he dominated AA last year at age 23 (1.5 below average age) so he clearly has upside. Sheffield is an exciting starting pitcher prospect, who at age 21 in A+ last year was 10-6 3.09 and has moved up to AA this season. He could be a solid rotation piece. So the optimism of the prospects in this trade has not faded, and I don’t think that the Yankees (yet) regret making it, though their surprise contention this season could change that calculus.

Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for RHP Adam Warren, SS Gleyber Torres, RF Billy McKinney, OF Rashad Crawford. Warren, another former Yankee, had been traded to Chicago in the 2015-16 offseason for Starlin Castro. Castro is not a long-term solution at second base, but was a MAJOR upgrade over the likes of Stephen Drew (and, sadly, Rob Refsnyder) and Brendan Ryan, who in fact was included in the deal for Castro. Warren had been great for the Yankees, with seasons of 3.39, 2.97, 3.29 and I hated to see him go. Castro was good enough, though, and the bullpen was fine without him. He did not pitch well at Wrigley (3-2 5.91) so Chicago was delighted when the Yankees agreed to take him and his salary back in this deal. His 2016 NYY numbers were right in line with his previous Yankee experience: 3.26 ERA. This year he has so far been totally lights out: he retired the first 22 batters he faced (!) and currently sports an 0.63 ERA. Welcome back! Torres of course was the centerpiece of the package, and is currently rated the #2 prospect in all of baseball (and #1 is in the majors), several slots ahead of Judge. He is very young (he turns 20 in December) and was great for the Yanks in spring training as well as being the MVP of the Arizona Fall League. He is likely to be a Yankee regular in the infield as early as next season; perhaps he will play second for Castro or third for Headley, or perhaps he will displace Didi to man one of those positions. His AFL line was scary: .403, .513, .645, 1158 and he has been good in AA Trenton so far this year (829 OPS) so here he comes. I expect a September callup and an early season 2018 permanent arrival (we get an extra year of control if he starts the season in AAA and comes up around May 15). All signs are positive, except that perhaps he won’t stick at SS which is OK, since Didi seems solid there (for what little it is worth, he has no errors so far this season, having played SS, 2B and 3B). Billy McKinney is a 22-year-old outfielder currently struggling in AA (though he hit fine there for Chicago); a lottery ticket. Rashad Crawford is exactly the same – an OF struggling with AA though he did not do as well in A+ as McKinney. Neither is in the Yankees top 25 prospects, but both are very young and could surprise. I suspect Chicago is happy with their World Series win, in which Chapman played a big role, and they didn’t need another infielder, so they are probably content with this trade, but the Yankees appear to have gotten a TON for 2 months of Chapman, whom they got back via free agency.

In short, 8 months later the trades look as enticing as ever.

And to add one more: in 2014 the Yankees traded backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for Justin Wilson. Cervelli has been fine for Pittsburgh, who probably don’t regret the trade at all. But Wilson was great for NYY in 2015 (5-0 3.10 in 61 IP) and in that offseason he was traded for Chad Green AND Luis Cessa, two legitimate candidates for the rotation, and he struggled for Detroit (4-5 4.14) last year, though he has been go so far in 2017. A great sequence for New York.

Kudos to Brian Cashman. He had first to convince Hal Steinbrenner to sell at the deadline, no mean task, and THEN he had to actually do it to good effect. To all appearances, he managed both brilliantly, and the Yankee future looks pretty bright.

 

 

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