Brian Cashman has done it again.
The long-time Yankees General Manager has put the Yankees in a position to make a deep postseason run for the first time since 2012. Not only did he add a depth piece to their rotation by acquiring left-hander Jaime Garcia from the Minnesota Twins, but he added a bonafide ace to the staff by trading for Sonny Gray from the Oakland A’s for three high-level prospects.
Aside from first base, the Yankees’ starting rotation was their most glaring need. With Masahiro Tanaka having a wildly inconsistent season, and Michael Pineda likely out for the rest of the season, it was no secret their staff needed some help. Adding Garcia was definitely an important move that will help the team greatly, but they were still missing a front-end piece.
Gray will not only bring number one starter qualities to the table in the Bronx, but he also comes with a little postseason experience, having pitched to a 2.08 ERA in two ALDS starts in his career. This will be important because in case you haven’t caught on yet, the Yankees are planning on playing meaningful baseball in October.
As for what the Yankees gave up to get Gray, that would be a three-prospect package of Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian and Dustin Fowler.
Mateo, a shortstop/outfielder, is the A’s fifth-best prospect now, and to begin last year was the Yankees number one overall prospect. He’s hitting .300 in AA this season and is just two seasons removed from stealing 82 bases in the minors. He has high upside, good versatility and will likely be with the big league team next season.
Kaprielian is a right-handed pitcher, drafted in the first round of 2015. He hasn’t (and won’t) play this year as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery, but owns a career 2.45 ERA in the minors. He projects to be a number two or three starter in the bigs, but that permits he stays on the field… which he hasn’t. The 6-foot-4, 23-year-old ranks number 11 in the A’s farm system.
Fowler may be the most well known of the three and probably has the most upside. The reason he’s the most well known of the group isn’t really a good one. Last month, he ruptured his patellar tendon in his MLB debut after running into an outfield wall and is out for the rest of the season. Without this, it’s possible he would have been replaced in this deal, but the Athletics capitalized on his decreased value. He slots in at number three in Oakland’s system and should make an immediate impact when he recovers.
Overall, this was an exceptional deal for the Yankees to make. They got the team-controlled ace they needed, and they gave up two prospects that are recovering from pretty serious injuries and won’t see the field until the beginning of 2018 at the earliest. On the A’s side of the deal, they made out pretty well too. The only reason they could even get all three of the prospects is more than likely due to the aforementioned injuries, so they probably ended up getting more value in return than they would’ve.
It was a classic win-win deal for both clubs, although the Yankees will see their portion of the win much earlier than the A’s