On Friday, in addition to the significant Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German trade with the Marlins, the Yankees made their first trade with their crosstown rival Mets in a decade.
The Mets traded relief pitcher Gonzalez Germen, who was designated for assignment last week by the Mets, to the Yankees for cash considerations. Germen, who is a 27-year-old right hander from the Dominican Republic, appeared in 25 games for the Mets in 2014 and posted a 4.75 ERA in 30.1 innings. His stats were much better at AAA-Las Vegas as his 2.38 ERA helped him record six saves and a 3-1 record in 22.2 innings (18 appearances). In the 2013 season, Germen appeared in 29 games and recorded an ERA of 3.93 in 34.1 innings. In 64.2 innings he has a 4.31 ERA, one save, 64 strikeouts, 30 walks and a 1.42 WHIP.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Germen the Yankees designated Preston Claiborne for assignment. This means that he will need to be returned to the 40-man roster within 10 days or be placed on waivers, traded, released or moved from the 40-man into the minor leagues.
The move to DFA Claiborne is somewhat surprising because his 3.79 ERA in two seasons was a good bit lower than Germen’s. Claiborne had a 3.00 ERA in 21 innings (but a very high 1.62 WHIP based on recording 24 hits and 10 walks) in 2014 and a 4.11 in 50.1 innings in 2013. The trade is basically a wash since neither Germen will not have a major impact on the Yankees and Claiborne, the player who was designated for assignment, would not have either.
Claiborne did have stretches where he pitched well for the Yankees, but he was not consistent enough during his two seasons. The Yankees like strikeout pitchers in the bullpen, and Germen has a solid 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which is much better than Claiborne’s 7.3.
Eovaldi, who is a starting pitcher who will turn 25 in February, is known for his dominating fastball that averages 96 mph while having a low strikeout total (142 in 199.2 innings last season) because he struggles with his location. He was traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins in 2012 in the blockbuster Hanley Ramirez deal. He has made 83 appearances (79 starts) while pitching 460 innings combined with the Dodgers and Marlins and has a deceiving record of 15-35 with a 4.07 ERA.
He had a 6-14 record while posting an ERA 4.24 last season. However, the former 11th-round draft pick out of Alvin High in Texas, had by far his best season of his career in 2013 as he showed his potential recording a 3.39 ERA in his 18 starts. If he can locate his overpowering fastball in the corners instead of throwing right down the middle like he often does he could have another season like he did in 2013.
Consistency and immaturity are his main issues as a pitcher. This is what an NL advanced scout said about Eovaldi: “He has No. 2 starter stuff, throws 98, but is very immature. His response to any trouble is to throw harder.” His 95.7 average fastball last season was the 4th best in all of baseball. In 2014, he relied primarily on his fastball and slider (87 mph), while also mixing in a curve (77 mph). He threw his changeup (77 mph) and sinker (97 mph) much less than his other three pitches. He will be more consistent if he relies more on his secondary pitches like his curve, change and sinker so that he will not only be throwing his fastball when he gets in trouble.
It would have been ideal if the Yankees could have kept Martin Prado, who plays well defensively at second, third and outfield and hit .316 with seven homers and 16 RBIs with the Yankees after being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Brian Cashman essentially turned Peter O’Brien into two months of Prado, and then turned Prado and David Phelps into Eovaldi, Jones and German.
Phelps is a pitcher that the Yankees will not miss as they tried to trade him last winter as well. The 28-year-old made his debut for the Yankees in April of 2012 after being drafted in 2008 and has appeared in 87 games and made 40 starts. He has a 4.21 ERA in 299.1 innings and has had ERAs of 4.38 and 4.98 the last two seasons. His WHIP has gotten worse the last two seasons and he basically is a No. 5 pitcher and middle reliever at this point without much upside.
The trade of Prado will initially hurt the Yankees in the infield, as he would have been the starter at second after they re-signed Chase Headley earlier in the week, but it opens up a spot for Rob Refsnyder, who has the ability to be a better overall second baseman eventually than Prado. Refsnyder, who is likely their second baseman of the present and future, could struggle a little in the beginning defensively. However, he is known for his ability with the bat and, after playing outfield in college, his defense his greatly improved.
In the 2014 season, Refsnyder had only three errors in 64 games at second base with the AAA-Scranton RailRiders after committing nine errors in 58 games with the AA-Trenton Thunder. In 2013, he had a combined 25 errors with two levels of A ball, which further proves his defensive development. He has hit well throughout the minors, with a .297 average in 313 games. In 137 games last season, Refsnyder hit .318 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs. This move will allow him to show his talents earlier than if Prado was still on the team. (The Yankees will miss Prado’s defensive versatility since he can play left field, right field, second base and third base.)
German is the second pitcher that the Yankees got in the deal. He is a 22-year old who was #8 on MLB.COM’s Top 10 Marlins prospects list. He has a 2.33 ERA in five seasons, and in 2014 while pitching for Single-A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League, he had an impressive 2.48 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 113 strikeouts in 25 starts. Those stats are impressive even though that league is pitcher friendly. Cashman said that he will probably begin the season with High-A Tampa, and it seems like he could be in the big league rotation in the next two or three seasons. He could be a hidden gem of this trade.
Jones is the third player that the Yankees received and he should further diminish Alex Rodriguez’s role on the team. The 33-year-old didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 25 and didn’t get regular playing time until he was 28 in 2009. He has hit 15 homers or more in each of the past six seasons. His average was only .246 last season, but in 2012, he had a solid all-around season as he had a .274 average with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. He played in 129 games at first base last season, but he can be relied on to play the corner outfield positions as well.
This trade makes the Yankees rotation younger as they will have Masahiro Tanaka (26), Michael Pineda (25), Eovaldi (24) and Ivan Nova (27) all 27 or younger. This move means that they will not be getting Max Scherzer, but if Eovaldi can pitch like he did in 2013, this will prove to be a smart trade. Jones’s ability to play first base and outfield will ensure that the Yankees have a reliable back-up to Mark Teixeira and give them a player with power to put in the outfield since Carlos Beltran will inevitably have to miss time.
Losing Prado is definitely a drawback as he was a plus in the clubhouse and was a player who would do whatever it took to win, but the Eovaldi, Jones and German additions have the ability to help the team win in 2015 and in the future.