After a hot start, the Yankees have hit a particularly rough patch. In particular, their bullpen has been unreliable and they’ve gotten virtually no production out of their first basemen (Chris Carter
, Tyler Austin
, Greg Bird
and Garrett Cooper
). If they were to continue to stay afloat in the race for a playoff spot, they needed to improve quickly.
With one move on Tuesday evening, Brian Cashman addressed both of those needs and the White Sox added a few more prospects to a system that has undergone a complete makeover in the last 12 months.
The Yankees added two former members of their bullpen—righthanders David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle—as well as third baseman Todd Frazier to shore up their deficiencies, and in return the White Sox got reliever Tyler Clippard, outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo and lefthander Ian Clarkin.
Clippard had been inconsistent as a Yankee but helps balance the financial portion of the deal and in turn helped get the White Sox pry Rutherford, BA’s No. 36 prospect on the most recent Top 100, from New York.
With Rutherford in tow, the White Sox bolster what has become an increasingly stacked farm system. Since the Winter Meetings, Chicago has added seven Top 100 prospects via trade and an eighth in international free agent Luis Robert as well.
That list includes the No. 1 prospect in the game in Yoan Moncada, who was called up after Tuesday’s game, and OF Eloy Jimenez, who was acquired from the Cubs for Jose Quintana last week.
The Yankees were delighted when Rutherford and his sweet lefty swing fell to them at No. 18 in the 2016 draft. Even without a particularly loud season, they were still high on him. He’s put up solid numbers and is working to increase his versatility in the outfield and remain consistent against both lefties and righties. He’s spent time in both center field and in both corner outfield spots this year in order to give teammate Estevan Florial time in center field as well. There’s a good chance he winds up in left field, but if he develops more power than he’s shown so far in his first professional season, he has the hit tool to profile there.
One of the Yankees’ three first-round picks in 2013 (along with Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge), Clarkin has been beset by injuries for a good portion of his career. He missed all of 2015 with left elbow inflammation and has spent time on the shelf this year with shoulder soreness. When he’s been healthy, he’s shown a fastball between 89-93 mph in addition to his traditional mix of changeup and curveball, neither of which stand out as a particularly dominant offering. He also throws a slider, which he added last season, but it lags behind his three other pitches at this point.
Polo was acquired by the Yankees last summer as part of the return for righthander Ivan Nova. He’s split his time with high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year and showed the chops to play all over the outfield and above-average speed that shows up both on defense and on the basepaths. He’s a smart, gap-to-gap hitter who can use his speed to turn doubles into triples with ease. He also saw time this year with Colombia’s team in the World Baseball Classic.
The Yankees acquired Clippard from the Diamondbacks during their deadline selloff last year in exchange for righthander Vicente Campos. For a time this year, he was extremely effective as the seventh-inning reliever before Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman entered the game. In June, Clippard allowed 12 earned runs on 12 hits (including four home runs) in just 9.2 innings. The White Sox taking on the remaining portion of the $4.25 million owed to Clippard this year was likely part of the reason they got Rutherford in the deal.
This hasn’t been Frazier’s best season, but the Yankees clearly need someone to stanch the bleeding at first base, where they’ve put forth a rotating cast of suspects. Greg Bird has been lost nearly all season with an ankle injury on which he finally had surgery this week. Chris Carter, the National League home run leader last year, has been designated for assignment twice. Tyler Austin has dealt with a broken foot and a hamstring injury. With those three down, the Yankees have turned to Garrett Cooper, whom the acquired from Milwaukee last week, at first base. Even in a down year, Frazier provides a significant upgrade.
Robertson was originally drafted by the Yankees out of Alabama in 2006, then zoomed through the minors and served as their closer in 2014 after Mariano Rivera retired. The White Sox inked him to a four-year deal after that season, and he’s been one of the better relievers in the game since. He’s been dominant this season, striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings and permitting just 22 hits in 33.1 innings out of Chicago’s bullpen.
Kahnle was taken by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 draft and later acquired by the Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. The Rockies dealt him to the White Sox in 2015 for righthander Yency Almonte. This year, with newfound command and an improved slider, he’s been one of the most dominant relievers in the game. He’s struck out 15 hitters per nine innings and a total of 60 in 36 innings against just seven walks. With Kahnle, who isn’t a free agent until 2021, in tow, it eases the load on Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman and gives them another one of the game’s best late-inning strikeout artists.