The Runner Sports

Pushing The Chips In, Yankees Acquire David Robertson, Todd Frazier, And Tommy Kahnle To Bolster Roster

As Tuesday became Wednesday on the east coast, the New York Yankees pulled off a trade that could set them up ideally for the second half. According to Bob Nightengale, a trade between the Yankees and the Chicago White Sox became official minutes before midnight. The Yankees acquired third baseman Todd Frazier, closer David Robertson, and right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle in exchange for right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard and prospects Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo.

Though Todd Frazier might be the biggest name in the deal, this trade’s greatest impact will be for Robertson and Kahnle. Since the beginning of June, the Yankees’ bullpen has been losing the team games left and right. Despite having one of the game’s best bullpen duos in Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have blown 18 saves this season. Pitching was an area of need for the Bronx Bombers, both in the bullpen and rotation. While the bullpen needs stem from poor performances recently, the rotation has been hit with a devastating injury as Michael Pineda is set to have Tommy John surgery. This move addresses the bullpen.

What Was Given?

Blake Rutherford

Blake Rutherford is the prize for the White Sox in this deal. Last year’s first-round pick for the Yankees, Rutherford is currently in Class-A Charleston. According to MLB Pipeline, Rutherford is ranked as the 30th best prospect in the game (third for the Yankees). While it is difficult to let go of a top five organizational prospect, Rutherford might be the easiest to let go of at this moment. At 20 years old, Rutherford is most likely three to four years away from being a permanent fixture on an MLB roster.

At the moment, Rutherford is batting .281/.342/.391 with 2 home runs and 30 RBIs. Compared to a slightly more athletic David Justice, Rutherford will likely end up playing in a corner outfield spot. The reason why letting go of Rutherford is not too big of a deal is the organizational depth in the outfield. At the MLB level, the Yankees have Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Jacoby Ellsbury who are under team control through 2019. Also, Brett Gardner still has a season left on his current contract. Add Clint Frazier and the assumption that Jorge Mateo might be transformed into an outfielder, then there is not much space for Rutherford. At the moment, it seems like he was the best trade chip for the Yankees, both for them and the opposing team.

Tyler Clippard

Before the season began, I wrote an article that stated Tyler Clippard would be crucial to the Yankees’ success. Turns out, that statement was more truthful than expected. Since June 12, Clippard has an 11.91 ERA with opposing hitters batting .319 against him. Throw in 3 blown saves and 2 losses, Clippard’s season went south quickly. His ERA currently sits at 4.95, which is a huge difference from the 1.73 he was holding before that bad stretch. During Clippard’s rough stretch, the Yankees only won 10 games.

Clippard being a piece in this deal comes down to money. With releasing his contract to the White Sox, the Yankees only add $10M to their payroll for Frazier and Robertson. The White Sox being willing to take on Clippard and his contract made letting Rutherford go a bit easier.

Ian Clarkin

Other than Rutherford, the Yankees did not give up any significant prospects in this deal. Ian Clarkin is the second best prospect in this deal. He ranks as the 19th best organizational prospect for the Yankees. Clarkin is a left-handed pitcher who was drafted in 2013 in the first round. Drafted in the same year as Aaron Judge, Clarkin is 22 years old and was pitching for High-A Tampa. This season, Clarkin has a 4-4 record with a 2.61 ERA.

Projected as a mid-rotation starter, Clarkin has been plagued by injuries during his young professional career. In four professional seasons (2017 is his fifth), he has injured his ankle, knee, and elbow. He underwent surgery for a tear in his meniscus in 2016. Although the Yankees are not as deep with pitching, Clarkin is not a prospect that Cashman will be hated for by trading him away.

Titi Polo

Another outfield prospect, Tito Polo is not ranked within the Yankees’ top 30. The 22-year-old was in Double-A Trenton at the time of the trade. Batting .298 between Double-A and High-A, Polo is another prospect who fans will not be too concerned about letting go. Acquired in the trade that sent Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, the return on this investment might turn into gold. Essentially, the Yankees turned a minor acquisition last season into a small piece of a huge trade this season. Fair play, Brian Cashman.

What Was Received

Normally, deals at the trade deadline involve only one MLB player. This deal included four, with three of them coming to the Yankees. Each one of the three should impact the team as they march forward in the battle for the postseason.

David Robertson

This could be the best part of the deal. David Robertson is coming back home to the Bronx. The initial successor to Mariano Rivera, Robertson made a name for himself in pinstripes. In his seven seasons with the Yankees, Robertson posted a 2.81 ERA with 524 strikeouts in 393.1 innings pitched. During the lone season that he served as the Yankees’ closer, he racked up 39 saves with 96 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.057. That success helped Robertson land a deal too rich for the Yankees.

After the 2014 season, David Robertson signed a four-year/$46M deal with the White Sox. 2017 might be the best season that Robertson has had with the South Siders. In 2017, Robertson has a 2.70 ERA in 31 appearances with a SO/9 of 12.7. His SO/9 this season is his highest since 2014 (13.4). Acquiring Robertson is a smart move by the Yankees. Not only does it help bolster the bullpen, but it is bringing back a familiar face. New York is one of the places that can heap massive amounts of pressure on acquired players. Adding someone who was formerly a successful Yankee helps the faith that the player can perform under the bright lights of New York.

Tommy Kahnle

It truly is a toss up between Tommy Kahnle and Robertson for which player will be the best from this trade. Kahnle is in his fourth season at the MLB level. His 2016 was a breakout season where he had a 2.62 ERA in 29 appearances in his first season for the White Sox. Despite floating between the MLB and Triple-A, Kahnle made an impression. For 2017. Kahnle has stepped it up. In 37 appearances, he has a 2.50 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 36 innings. His SO/9 is at a staggering 15.0.

Unlike Robertson, Kahnle is under a much friendlier contract situation. He is not up for arbitration until after the 2018 season. He will not be a free agent until 2021. If Kahnle is truly this good, the Yankees have found an ace to join Chapman for the next few seasons. Between the three players in the deal, Kahnle looks like the best addition in the long-term. Hopefully, he can have massive short-term impact as well.

Todd Frazier

Was Todd Frazier only included in this deal to keep him from the Boston Red Sox? I highly dobut it, but it would not shock me. However, there is a hole that Frazier can fill: first base. In his career, Frazier has racked up 740 innings at first. While the Yankees did recently acquire Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers to add depth to the position, Frazier could solve the problem.

Since being acquired by the White Sox in a trade, Frazier was not the productive third baseman he was for the Cincinnati Reds. During his White Sox tenure, he batted .220 with 56 home runs (including 40 last season). However, his 2017 batting average is sitting at measly .207, which is a tick under the .208 mark that the Yankees have seen from first base. Despite those low numbers, his recent numbers have seen a slight improvement. In his last 37 games, Frazier is slashing .234/.361/.508 with 9 home runs.

Looking at his numbers, some fans may question why the Yankees bothered. Frazier’s numbers seem to resemble the released Chris Carter. However, Carter struck out five more times (76 to 71) in 127 fewer plate appearances. Plus, a change of scenery could help Frazier. From Point Pleasant, New Jersey, coming to his hometown team might energize his bat some. One thing is for sure, Frazier is the risk in the deal.

Good Trade or Bad Trade?

If there was an example of a team being a “careful buyer,” this deal might be it. Receiving three MLB players in exchange for one prized prospect at a packed position is the ideal trade for the Yankees. Blake Rutherford might run into a future All-Star, but he most likely would have been held down by Judge, Ellsbury, Hicks, and Clint Frazier. Including Clippard in the deal is another plus for the Yankees, ridding themselves of his contract.

Both Robertson and Kahnle will be here for more than a season, which will help the sting of trading Rutherford. Todd Frazier is a rental, but that is ideal for an infielder with how the organization looks. This trade is a win for the Yankees. Unless all three players flop horrendously and Blake Rutherford becomes a White Sox all-timer, Cashman will not be ridiculed for this move. The only way it could have been better is if a quality starter was part of the deal.

Are the Yankees Done Dealing?

The size of this deal makes me feel that Cashman could be done. However, the small amount of prospects given up by the Yankees could indicate that there is a chance to acquire a starter. With Pineda’s injury and Luis Cessa not impressing anyone, the Yankees could use a starter to fill in. The problem is that most of the starters on the trade block have at least one year left on their deal. That will only drive up the price. While the Yankees have been attached to Sonny Gray, it will be interesting to see if that continues after this trade.

In my personal opinion, if Cashman can negotiate a similar deal for a starter of Gray’s quality, then there is no reason not to pull the trigger. I can see the Yankees trading Jorge Mateo for a good-to-great starting pitcher with years of team contract. Mateo, like Rutherford, could see his progress stalled by organizational depth. At the MLB level, the Yankees will have Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro for the next two seasons at least. Throw in Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujar who show promise, and Mateo could turn out to be the odd man out. If Mateo is traded, then he would have fallen victim to Torres, who was acquired for Chapman.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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