The Yankees needed help in their rotation, and after weeks of speculating they got their man by sending three prospects to Athletics in exchange for righthander Sonny Gray, who has returned to near-ace form of late after spending a season and change dealing with a variety of injuries. Because Gray can't be a free agent until 2020, this move helps the Yankees both now and in the long-term.
Gray will add instant impact to rotation fronted by Luis Severino, who has done a complete 180 since last season, and Masahiro Tanaka, who has been stellar of late but putrid in the early portion of the season. Gray will join fellow new addition Jaime Garcia (acquired from the Twins late last week) in the Yankees' starting five.
To acquire Gray, the Yankees paid two high-upside players in outfielder Dustin Fowler and righthander James Kaprielian who have dealt with serious injuries this season and a former top prospect inJorge Mateo who has regained some fans over the last month after a monthlong rejuvenation at Double-A Trenton. Fowler and Kaprielian both have high ceilings—Fowler could be an everyday center fielder and Kaprielian a mid-rotation starter—and Mateo could be sparkplug-type shortstop at the top of the lineup.
The deal, which also sent $1.5 million of international bonus money to New York, gives the Yankees rotation help they badly needed and enriches what was a lackluster Oakland system.
Jorge Mateo, ss/cf
Once the top prospect in the Yankees' system, Mateo's prospect sheen took a bit of hit over the past couple of seasons while he struggled over parts of three seasons in the Florida State League. Moreover, his makeup was called into question when he was suspended for two weeks after a spat with a Yankees official over not being promoted as quickly as he'd like. Apparently he's much happier in the Northeast, where he's turned it on over the last month since moving to Double-A Trenton. With the Thunder, Mateo has thrived, slashing .300/.381/.525 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He's got some power, but he's better suited to slash and dash with his 80-grad speed. He's played center field and shortstop with Trenton, but scouts who have seen him prefer him at shortstop in the long-term. Part of the reason he was playing center field in the first place revolved around the Yankees' long line of shortstops, including current Yankee Didi Gregorius and top prospect Gleyber Torres.
|Dustin Fowler, of
Arguably the biggest riser in the Yankees' system this year, Fowler spent all season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre showing off a tantalizing mix of tools. He's got well above-average speed that he utilizes both on the basepaths in center field, where he's a plus defender. He makes plenty of contact (which offsets his lack of walks) and can turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples (he's got 23 of them over his last two seasons). He's also got enough pop to hit double-digit home runs as well. Fowler made his major league debut this year, but during his first game ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee. He had surgery that day and is expected to miss 12-18 months recovering.
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|James Kaprielian, rhp
The Yankees took Kaprielian in the first round of the 2015 draft and immediately saw an uptick in stuff. He went from sitting in the low 90s at UCLA to living in the mid-90s and touching as high as 98 as a professional. With that uptick in stuff, however, came injury issues. He missed all but three starts in the 2016 regular season with elbow issues, then dazzled in the Arizona Fall League. He pitched in spring training this year but the elbow troubles cropped up again and he had Tommy John surgery in April. At his best, he brings a four-pitch mix, with the slider and changeup his two best offspeed pitches and a curveball in his back pocket as well. He should be back sometime next year.
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Sonny Gray, rhp
The Yankees were hunting for someone to bolster their rotation, and they got their man in Gray, who will help this year and in years to come. Gray's first three seasons in Oakland were spectacular, culminating with a 2015 season in which he made his first All-Star appearance and a third-place finish in the Cy Young voting. Gray spent all of 2016 and the early part of 2017 dealing with injuries, including a strained trapezius muscle and a right forearm strain last year and a strained lat in the early portion of this year. Now healthy, Gray has dazzled in the summer months. In June and July, he's gone 4-3, 2.73 and allowed just 51 hits in 62.2 innings with 65 strikeouts against 20 walks. With Michael Pineda out for the season with Tommy John surgery, Gray should help stabilize a Yankees rotation in need.