Image credit: Frankie Montas (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
After adding Andrew Benintendi from the Royals and Scott Effross to bolster their lineup and bullpen, the Yankees swung a deal with Oakland to acquire righthander Frankie Montas for the rotation and Lou Trivino for the bullpen.
Montas was one of the best starters available on the market and will not be a free agent until 2024. He’s produced one of the best chase rates this season, and is producing numbers nearly identical to his output in 2021, when he finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
Trivino has not been particularly productive this season, having worked to a 6.47 ERA in 39 games. He’s gotten plenty of strikeouts, however—45 in 32 innings—and, like Montas, has gotten chases at an excellent rate.
In return, the Yankees sent Oakland a package of four prospects—lefties Ken Waldichuk and J.P. Sears, righty Luis Medina and infielder Cooper Bowman. Sears and Medina already have spots on the 40-man roster and Waldichuk will need a spot in order to be protected from this year’s Rule 5 draft.
Frankie Montas, RHP
In Montas, the Yankees acquired a pitcher capable of bolstering their rotation both now and next year. He’s been durable and productive for the last three seasons after a PED suspension cut short his 2019 campaign. He works with a powerful arsenal fronted by mid-90s four- and two-seam fastballs, a nasty splitter in the mid 80s, a high-80s slider and a high-80s cutter. The contact he gives up can be quite loud, but he’s done a great job getting hitters to chase while also commanding the strike zone.
Lou Trivino, RHP
Trivino will pair with fellow acquisition Scott Effross to give New York a deeper bullpen down the stretch and into the postseason. The righthander has not had his best season, but his FIP in 2022 is nearly identical to what he produced in 2021, when he produced 1.2 bWAR out of the bullpen. He’s also striking out more hitters than a year ago (12.7 per nine innings in 2022 as compared to 8.4 in 2021) and walking slightly fewer. His BABIP against is .451 this season.
Ken Waldichuk, LHP
Waldichuk was the Yankees’ fifth-round pick in 2019 out of Saint Mary’s. He got his feet wet in the Appalachian League before emerging in 2021 as a force to be reckoned with at both High-A and Double-A. The numbers he’s produced this year are undoubtedly excellent, but there is a split camp in terms of his future role. Some evaluators see a potential rotation piece, perhaps as high as a No. 3 starter if everything clicks. Others believe his command is too loose to start and he’ll wind up a bullpen arm capable of getting high-leverage outs. The Yankees worked with Waldichuk in the offseason to make his lower half more stable in his delivery and loosen the tension in his upper half as a result. His stuff—led by a pair of potential plusses in a high lively mid-90s fastball and low-80s slider and complemented by a possibly above-average changeup and average, slurvy curveball—is unquestioned. The degree to which he can improve his command and repeat his delivery will determine whether he reaches his ceiling.
Luis Medina, RHP
At his best, Medina has the loudest stuff in the organization. His fastball averages around 97 mph, and has touched 102 this season. He backs it up with a hammer curveball in the low 80s, a high-80s changeup and a newer, low-80s slider. If he were more consistent in his delivery, he’d have the ceiling of a front-end rotation piece. He’s struggled for the entirety of his career to sync his arm with his body, and has struggled badly with command and control, though the latter has gotten significantly better since the early portion of his career. At his best, he’s untouchable. At his worst, he struggles to find the strike zone and racks up high pitch counts. The stuff alone should help him carve a spot in a big league bullpen, but he’ll have to show more consistency and higher-quality strikes to have a shot in a rotation.
J.P. Sears, RHP
Sears, acquired from the Mariners for Nick Rumbelow in 2017, has been one of the Yankees’ bigger success stories in the past few seasons. He broke out in 2021, when his 136 strikeouts were the third-most in the system. He made his big league debut this April and has been up and down for most of the season. He gets his outs with an analytically pleasing mix of a low-90s four-seamer, a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider. He has a shot to be a back-end starter but could also settle in as a multi-inning reliever.
Cooper Bowman, 2B/SS
Bowman was the Yankees’ fourth-round pick in 2021, out of Louisville. In his first full test as a pro, he’s shown a flat bat path geared toward beating balls into the ground and letting plus speed take over. He’s got bat speed but his hit tool is below-average, leading evaluators to believe he’ll struggle to carve out a role as a regular. That’s especially true considering his defense is stretched at shortstop, putting more pressure on his offense at second base.