The Yankees faced a major roster crunch in advance of Monday’s deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters. They took a step toward alleviating that pressure on Saturday, trading reliever Nick Rumbelow to the Mariners in exchange for pitching prospects J.P. Sears and Juan Then.
Rumbelow’s departure brings the Yankees 40-man roster down to 37 players, which still leaves them some work to do before Monday with five obvious candidates to protect and many others who would interest teams in the Rule 5 draft.
For the Mariners, Rumbelow’s addition brings a reliever with a little bit of upside to the roster in the team’s continued quest to sort out its bullpen. It marks Seattle’s third trade in four days in which prospects were sent away.
J.P. Sears, LHP (low Class A Clinton)
Sears led NCAA Division I in strikeouts during the regular season this year, recording 142 punchouts in 95.1 innings for The Citadel. The Mariners popped him with their 11th-round selection and signed him for $160,000. Sears moved into the bullpen immediately in pro ball, making 17 appearances between short-season Everett and low Class A Clinton, and struck out 51 in 27.2 innings while posting a 0.65 ERA. Sears works with a high-spin rate fastball in the 88-92 mph range and couples it with a sharp slider in the high-70s. He generates deception from a low-slot delivery as well.
Juan Then, RHP (Rookie-level DSL)
The Yankees added yet another high-upside righthander to their stable of similar pitchers. Then signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2016 for $77,000 and was one of the most impressive pitchers in the DSL this summer, going 2-2, 2.64 with 56 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. Scouts who saw Then this year saw a pitcher with smooth, clean delivery that produced 90-94 mph fastballs as well as two offspeed pitches—a changeup and a curveball—that project as above-average offerings in the future.
Nick Rumbelow, RHP (Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre)
Rumbelow pitched only one inning in 2016 before having Tommy John surgery but returned in 2017 and went 5-1, 0.62 with 30 strikeouts and eight walks in 29 innings at Triple-A. Rumbelow has a three-pitch mix consisting of a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s curveball. He’s bounced between Triple-A and the majors in recent years and has 15.2 innings of MLB time to his credit. He should compete for an Opening Day spot in the Mariners’ bullpen.