A week ago today, news broke that the Yankees and White Sox struck a deal sending corner infielder Todd Frazier to the Yankees along with right handed relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, in exchange for Tyler Clippard and a prospect package. This deal wasn’t exactly a blockbuster, but makes a huge statement for each team. Let’s break down each side’s haul in this deal.
Todd Frazier, 1B/3B- Throughout the entire season, the Yankees have had trouble finding consistent play out of their corner infield positions. The team has featured Chase Headley at third base throughout the season, where he has struggled not only at the plate, but on defense as well. At first base, the team has had a revolving door of players including the injured Greg Bird and the failed free agent signing in Chris Carter. Todd Frazier can help provide some aid to that.
Frazier isn’t exactly having his best season at the plate, batting just .206 thus far. However, he has seen improvement as of late, hitting .232 since the start of June. He also provides some pop the Yankees haven’t received from their corner infielders this season. He has hit 16 home runs up to this point, as well as 9 since his bat began heating up in June.
For the Yankees, Frazier is nothing more than a rental, as his contract expires following the season and is unlikely to return in 2018 with Greg Bird expected to return fully healthy and star prospect Gleybar Torres ready to fight for an infield spot on the big league roster next season. However, for the time being he will push Chase Headley to first base, providing the Yankees a reliable glove at third along with a solid veteran bat in the lineup.
David Robertson, RHP– The other big problem for the Yankees this season has been the bullpen. Throughout this season their bullpen led, by “star” relievers Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances, have managed to blow a grand total of 18 saves, the most in the league. Robertson began his career in pinstripes, and his return to the iconic jersey could not have come at a more desperate time.
Robertson spent the first seven years of his career as the set up man to legend Mariano Rivera, along with one season as the teams closer, putting up a solid season before signing with the White Sox on what at the time was the 4th most luxurious deal for a ever reliever. Now in year three of the four year pact, Robertson is returning to the Yankees boasting a solid ERA of 2.70. In 33.1 innings he has converted 13/13 save opportunities, striking out 47 batters along the way good for a 12.7 K/9.
Unlike Frazier, Robertson is not just a rental, as his contract doesn’t expire until after the 2018 season. While Robertson won’t be asked to close for the team, he will still play a vital role to the team’s bullpen and provide a major upgrade over the next couple of seasons. He will serve as the 7th inning man for the Yanks’ the rest of the season and likely next, being given the role of making sure he can hand the ball over to Betances and Chapman with a Yankee lead still in tact.
Tommy Kahnle, RHP- Another relief pitcher returning to the Yankees organization is righty Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle never made it to the big leagues for the Yankees, however, as they lost him to the Rule 5 draft. Kahnle is thought to be the most valuable piece of the trio heading to the Yankees, and it is easy to see why.
Kahnle broke onto the scene in Chicago this year, getting called up after not making the opening day roster and cementing his role. In Chicago, Khanle pitched to a 2.50 ERA over 36 innings, posting an impressive 60 strikeouts for an outstanding 15.1 K/9. He has already see an inning of work for the Yankees, tossing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, showing the team exactly what they paid for with his upper 90s fastball.
Aside from his performance, what makes Kahnle so valuable is that he is a controllable asset and just 24 years old. With low service time in the MLB, he is not arbitration eligible until 2018, and will not be able to hit the open market until 2021. While he will have no set inning like Robertson, he will be a more flexible arm the Yankees can use in any situation they feel he is needed.
Other Yankees Notes:
- This trade is a statement from the team that they are serious about contending this season. Adding three pieces to their roster puts away any doubters that felt they would consider selling.
- Another plus in this trade was that the team was able to shed the contract of Tyler Clippard. Clippard started the season as the 7th inning man, but struggled mightily and became a major liability. The rest of his $6.15 million salary is now the White Sox problem.
- The Yankees bullpen is once again a huge threat. With Chapman and Betances expected to return to elite form at some point, adding Robertson and Kahnle to a bullpen featuring the Yankees’ two stars as well as Chad Green and Adam Warren, who both boast sub 2.00 ERAs, arguably gives the team the best bullpen in the league once again.
- This trade not only benefits the Yankees, but hurts the Red Sox, which is another win for the team. The Red Sox were thought to be deep in talks with the White Sox for Todd Frazier, and were also interested in David Robertson. In a trade market that is thin at third base and requires high returns for relief pitchers, the Yankees have hurt the team they are chasing’s chances at an upgrade, while upgrading themselves as well.
White Sox Receive:
Blake Rutherford, OF- Rutherford is the gold gem of this trade for the White Sox. Currently ranked as the 30th best prospect in the league by MLB.com, Rutherford was drafted by the Yankees in 2016, and only just turned 20 years old. While he was ranked as the third best prospect in the Yankees system, Rutherford’s path to the bigs was blocked given his young age and the sheer talent at the position the Yankees possess.
Rutherford gained his high prospect status by breaking out in rookie ball last season. In 33 games of rookie ball, he batted .351 with 3 home runs and drove in 12 runs. This season has not been as much of a breeze for him, but he has still been solid as he has posting a .281 average in A ball. What is a bit of a concern is his home run total, as he has just 2 home runs this season in 274 at bats, while he hit 3 last season in just 114. While it is a small concern, it is nothing to be too worried about so early into his career, as Rutherford projects to be a solid corner outfielder for the White Sox a few years down the road.
Ian Clarkin, LHP- Ian Clarkin has had a long road in his minor league career. Clarkin, 22, was once regarded as one of the Yankees top prospects, but injuries have slowed him down a bit. In 2015 he was shut down due to arm problems, and in 2016 he was eventually shut down again due to knee problems.
Despite his injury history, Clarkin has rebounded nicely this season, with a 4-5 record and a 2.85 ERA in high A ball thus far. He also has a solid strikeout rate, punching out 58 in 75.2 innings for a 6.9 K/9 ratio. To go along with his solid numbers, the fact that he is a lefty adds to his value, as solid southpaws are hard to come by. Clarkin could eventually develop into a back-end starter for the White Sox.
Tito Polo, OF- In all honestly, Polo is more of a throw in to this deal than anything. He joined the Yankees last season as a player to be named later from the Ivan Nova trade with the Pirates, and is already on his way out of town. Though he is not currently considered a great prospect, Polo has hit a solid .307 with 5 home runs this season between high A and AA. While he may never develop into a star, he could possibly become a solid backup outfielder.
Tyler Clippard, RHP- Clippard to the White Sox was more of a plus for the Yankees than the White Sox in this trade, as stated earlier. His 4.95 ERA and high salary were hurting a Yankee team hoping to reach the playoffs. It is extremely possible Clippard is moved before the deadline if the White Sox eat his salary.
Other White Sox Notes:
- A huge plus in this trade for the White Sox was the fact that they didn’t have to eat any salary from Todd Frazier or David Robertson. The team was able to shed their contracts while only having to take on that of Tyler Clippard.
- The addition of Blake Rutherford arguably gives the White Sox the best farm system in the game, giving them a second top outfield prospect to pair with Eloy Jimenez, who also was recently acquired from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade.
- Including the recently promoted Yoan Moncada, the White Sox now own 2 of MLB.coms top 10 prospects, 4 of the top 25, 7 of the top 36, and 10 of the top 63.