With just less than an hour to go before Monday’s deadline for teams to finalize their 40-man rosters and protect prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees made a deal with the Marlins. The deal, the first for new Marlins owner and longtime Yankees player Derek Jeter, sent first baseman Garrett Cooper and lefthander Caleb Smith to Miami in exchange for minor league righthander Michael King and more international slot money (reported by Buster Olney to be $250,000), which the Yankees will likely use to enhance their pursuit of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
Garrett Cooper, 1B (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Cooper, whom the Yankees acquired from the Brewers this season to help buttress the first base position while Greg Bird was injured and Chris Carter was ineffective, made his major league debut on July 14 and hit .326/.333/.488 with five doubles and six RBIs in 43 at-bats. Before he was traded to the Yankees, Cooper had begun to work at Triple-A Colorado Springs to improve his launch angle and get the ball in the air more often. That’s a solid strategy not only at the launching pad in Colorado Springs, but it also fits in nicely with the modern game. He’s a solid defender at first base and spent time in the minors this season working specifically on scooping throws in the dirt.
Caleb Smith, LHP (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Smith, a 14th-round selection out of Sam Houston State in 2013, made his major league debut on July 28, three days after Cooper. He was a Rule 5 pick last year who failed to stick with the Cubs. He finished the season 0-1, 7.71 in 18.2 big league innings, but was a much more effective 9-1, 2.39 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Smith, 26, utilizes a low-90s fastball as well as a slider and changeup in the low-to-mid-80s. He’s likely to compete for a spot in the Marlins’ bullpen as a lefty specialist, but to do so, he’ll have to retire lefties much better than he did in his first big league exposure–they hit .360 off of him.
Michael King, RHP (low Class A Greensboro)
Smith, the Marlins’ 12-round selection out of Boston College in 2016, spent the year at low Class A Greensboro. He finished 11-9, 3.14 with with 106 strikeouts against just 21 walks in 149 innings. He uses a 92-96 mph sinking fastball to get plenty of ground balls, and pairs the pitch with a slider and changeup that are both still developing. His 3.14 ERA was the third-best in the Marlins’ organization.