The loss of Greg Bird to an ankle injury has impacted the Yankees to the point they rank next-to-last in OPS at first base. General manager Brian Cashman said in recent days that first base production from Bird, the recently-released Chris Carter, Tyler Austin and Ji-Man Choi was insufficient and that he would likely seek an outside solution. On Thursday, he made his first move, acquiring 26-year-old Garrett Cooper from the Brewers for 27-year-old lefthander Tyler Webb.
Tyler Webb, lhp
Webb, a 10th-round pick in 2013 from South Carolina, made his major league debut this season after he was returned as a Rule 5 pick by the Pirates. He has fringe-average stuff—fastball that averaged 91 mph, a changeup and slider—but succeeded at Triple-A with command and control, especially against lefthanders, whom he held to a sub-.600 OPS in back-to-back seasons. He joins Josh Hader to give the Brewers another left-on-left matchup threat.
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Garrett Cooper, 1b
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Cooper was a sixth-round pick out of Auburn as a senior sign in 2013 and signed for just $30,000. The plus raw power he showed in college finally manifested at Triple-A this season, albeit at high-altitude Colorado Springs. After never hitting more than nine homers in a season, he hit 17 longballs in 75 games this year and earned a starting spot in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that despite his age, the organization thought highly of Cooper.
“He’s more athletic than you see on paper,” Flanagan said. “He handles first base well defensively. He’s a good runner. So he’s not just a home run guy. He hits for average, doubles, hits to all fields.”
Cooper figures to at least get the chance to platoon with the lefthanded-hitting Choi, if not displace him entirely, although he’s been assigned to Triple-A.