The New York Yankees had two major needs heading into the second half of the MLB season: a corner infielder and more pitching. On Tuesday night, they addressed both.
After months of speculation, Todd Frazier and David Robertson are finally on the move. The Chicago White Sox shipped them, along with reliever Tommy Kahnle, to the Bronx in exchange for Tyler Clippard and three Yankees prospects, continuing the fire sale that began with the offseason trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.
The deal should be a big boost for a Yankees team that’s gone 9-21 since June 13.
Frazier is your typical power bat who can’t hit for average, posting a season line of .207/.328/.432 with 16 home runs and 44 RBI. While the White Sox used him almost exclusively as a third baseman, he’s also capable of playing first base, a position that’s confounded the Yankees all year long.
Meanwhile, New York’s bullpen just went from a good unit to one of the very best in the league. Robertson, who played for the Yankees from 2008 through 2014, has been on fire recently, having posted a 1.38 ERA and 13.2 K/9 since June 6. Kahnle, the smallest name on his way to New York, is also in the midst of a great season, with a 2.50 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 37 games.
Of course, that haul of impact players didn’t come cheap. The Yankees gave up three prospects — Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo — along with Clippard, an expensive reliever who’s struggled of late. Rutherford was the organisation’s No. 3 prospect, so including him was an aggressive move for a team that just last week stated its intent to be “careful buyers.”
But then again, there was plenty of incentive for the Yankees to get the deal done. General manager Brian Cashman didn’t just improve his own team — he also made sure that the Boston Red Sox, who lead the American League East by two games, will be unable to look to Chicago for reinforcements.
The Red Sox were rumoured to be interested in Frazier and Robertson, with FanRag’s Jon Heyman reporting that they sent a scout to evaluate both players. Boston’s starting third baseman, Deven Marrero, has batted just .218 this year, while its bullpen is populated mostly by overachievers who look due for regression in the second half.
Boston will surely make some kind of deal before the trade deadline on July 31, but with the Yankees and Nationals acquiring four arms in the past week, the relief pitching market is looking thin. Meanwhile, Yangervis Solarte and Martin Prado are the most likely options for an upgrade at the hot corner. If the Red Sox fail to make necessary improvements and end up stumbling down the stretch, Cashman’s big move will go down as a stroke of genius.
But for now, the Yankees still have some ground to make up. At 48-44, they occupy third place in the AL East, 3.5 games out of first.
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